I’m currently going through the picky-eating phase with my 18 month old so I’m trying to find ways to get healthier foods into her. Mac n Cheese is one of our go to foods (I’m not overly thrilled by this…) so I put together some new ways to serve it with healthier ingredients. My toddler has yet to turn down mac n cheese, and so far, all of the new ways I’ve made it for her, have also been a hit!
Whether you make mac n cheese from scratch or make it from a box, all the following ways work 🙂
Tip: If using a boxed mac n cheese (we use the Annie’s Organic one), try eliminating the butter and milk and use a scoop of greek yogurt instead. It makes it super creamy and gives a nice healthy boost of protein!
Tip: Did you know that leftover mac n cheese is even better? I heat a skillet and pan fry the cold mac n cheese until the cheese starts to melt again. The edges of the pasta get a little browned and it tastes wonderful 🙂
1. Broccoli madness: Steam some broccoli florets, cut into smaller pieces and mix into the freshly made mac n cheese. This is one of my daughters favorite mac n cheese mixtures! (Tip: If you shop at Costco, they sell Organic Broccoli in the Frozen Foods area. We always have at least 2 bags in our freezer as we go through a lot of broccoli in this house!)
2. Cheesy Peas: Cook your peas however you wish but I prefer to quickly pan fry them in my cast iron skillet. Once cooked, I add them to the cooked mac n cheese and mix until well coated in the cheese. This mixture is always a favorite for all of us! Tip: Also pertaining to Costco – we buy a giant bag of frozen Organic Peas here.
3. Sweet Potato n Cheese: Another food my toddler does not turn down ever is sweet potatoes. For this mixture I bake a whole sweet potato until soft, then scoop the insides out and mix into the cooked mac n cheese. Delicious! Tip: If you have a Trader Joes nearby, they sell a bag of Organic Sweet Potatoes for a great price!
4. Cheesy Mash: My husbands favorite: mashed potatoes and mac n cheese. For the mashed potatoes, I peel and chop potatoes and boil them until soft. I add a bit of milk and some garlic powder to the cooked potatoes and mash until mostly smooth (we like ours a little lumpy). Put a scoop of mashed taters on a plate and a scoop of mac n cheese on top. Yum! Another twist that I really like on this, is adding peas to the mixture as well!
5. Shepherd’s Pie Mac n Cheese: A twist on Shepherd’s Pie of course! Make the mashed potatoes as in the above Cheesy Mash mixture and place a scoop of it on a plate. Add some cooked ground turkey or lean beef to your cooked mac n cheese and mix thoroughly. Add cooked peas and mix. Then put a scoop of the mac n cheese mixture on top of the mashed potatoes and serve!
6. Popeye’s Favorite Mac n Cheese: Yep you guessed it – loads of spinachy goodness in this one! There are 2 ways that I’ve made this one. Using cooked spinach: I start with fresh spinach that I chop up and cook in the skillet with some fresh garlic. Once cooked I mix it into the cooked mac n cheese. Using raw spinach: I puree the spinach in my vitamix blender until smooth then add that into the cooked mac n cheese and stir until well blended. Both are great and either way you are going to get lots of healthy greens 🙂
7. Cheesy Chicken Quesidilla: I love this one as it reminds me of eating a chicken quesidilla! This is a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken as well! Simply shred or chop a cooked chicken breast and mix it into cooked mac n cheese. Add some salsa and plain greek yogurt and mix that in well too. So yummy!
8. Bacon n Cheeser: We love bacon but we only buy turkey bacon now – so much healthier and I actually think it tastes even better than traditional bacon. I cook the turkey bacon in the skillet and then break it into small pieces. Simply toss those into the cooked mac n cheese and stir. Cheese and bacon just go so well together!
9. Mac n cheeseiflower: Another great combo is cauliflower and cheese so I course I had to try making this into a mac n cheese variation. And it worked great! I steam my cauliflower, then chop it into smaller bite size pieces (remember I have a toddler so I still have to cut things into small pieces). Toss the cauliflower with the cooked mac n cheese and volia – a delicious meal!
10. Hot Doggin’ Good: Of course how could I forget a classic? Hot dog weiners chopped up and tossed into mac n cheese. But for the version I make, I use organic all natural hot dog weiners either 100% beef or turkey. No by- products in this house! This adds a great amount of protein and to add some veggies I throw in some fresh diced tomatoes.