10 New {Healthy} Takes on Mac n Cheese

macncheese

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.

About Jessica Acs

Originally from Victoria BC, Canada, I’m now living in Chicago IL. I mostly just make mini albums now, and I’m the author of Memory Makers Book: “Outstanding Mini Albums”, 2009. I am a Certified Ranger Educator and I previously taught classes in Vancouver BC, as well as at Scrapbooking Conventions around the USA. I’m also an Exotic Animal Trainer/ Wildlife Educator and with my husband we do educational live animal shows for schools, parties and events. We literally have a small zoo at our home, with over 70 different animals. To add even more excitement to our lives, we recently became new parents when we welcomed our baby girl, Ava, in July 2012. As well as here at Homeketeers, I can be found over on my other 2 sites: www.jessicaacs.com and www.outstandingminialbums.com

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