Thursday, November 3, 2011

Redeem Mac-N-Cheese

Most nutritionists will tell you that macaroni and cheese is a calorie-laden dish that has very little nutritive value.  But so many of us love it, and so many of our kids gobble it up.  So rather than throwing our comfort food out the window, let's add some nutrition we can feel great about.  This idea came after talking with a  friend who makes pasta with broccoli regularly for her kids.

When you are making macaroni and cheese from a box, I recommend two kinds we have tried.  If you're a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese fan, try the new Veggie Pasta variety:

The pasta itself is made with cauliflower, which adds valuable nutrients easily. Prior to the arrival of the Veggie Pasta, I'd puree cauliflower, as mentioned in my Deceptively Delicious post. This is likely the healthier option, but it is more work.  I would typically add between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of the cauliflower puree to an organic boxed macaroni and cheese.  The sauce will need salt and pepper since the cauliflower puree is not seasoned.  One of our favorite box varieties is Annie's Shells and White Cheddar:

And of course the healthiest option would be to make homemade macaroni and cheese, but that is not always practical.  

Now for the tip.  Regardless of which macaroni and cheese you use, add broccoli to the dish and you instantly have a nutritionally superior meal.  The key is to use FRESH broccoli florets and add them to the boiling pasta during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time (add little salt to the pasta water, if you desire).  The broccoli will float on top like this until it really starts to boil:

Once the pasta is done, dump the pasta/broccoli in a colander, and prepare the cheese sauce. (I like to season the sauce with a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.)  Add the hot broccoli and pasta back to the sauce and mix well.   My kids love this and they weren't broccoli fans before we started making it this way.  NOTE: I do not recommend using frozen broccoli, it gets really mushy and may warrant complaints.  This is a photo of the final product:

This bowl is "heavy on the broccoli" for my new little broccoli lover.  But who doesn't love broccoli covered in cheese sauce?  Yum!

And if your kids dig the broccoli with the mac, next time you dine with your kids at Outback Steakhouse, order the Mac 'A' Roo and Cheese, and ask your server to add steamed broccoli.  This dish does not disappoint!

No comments:

Post a Comment