Mac & Cheese: Boxed Made Better

I admit it.  I keep a few boxes of macaroni and cheese on hand in my pantry at all times.  I make myself feel slightly better by trying to get the organic kind with whole grain pasta, but let’s face it, it’s still boxed mac and cheese.  However, sometimes in a pinch, or when I need a super-fast meal for the kids and the babysitter and everyone has had their fill of pizza, out comes the box. 

A number of years ago there was a lot of controversy about a cookbook that encouraged parents to “hide” pureed vegetables in other dishes in order to trick their kids into eating healthier.  While I do not have a problem with enhancing the nutritional value of what you feed your kids, I also believe it is important that your kids learn to EAT VEGETABLES in their original, non-pureed, undisguised form.  How will they ever learn whether or not they like spinach if they only way they’ve eaten it is hidden in a brownie?  That’s a soapbox for another time, so back to the point of this post. 

I had an extra sweet potato left over from dinner the night before, so I decided to puree it (in actuality, I just smashed it up with a fork) and add it to the already-orangey colored boxed mac and cheese.  In all honesty, it made it taste MUCH better, and gave the entire dish a creamier consistency.  The fact that it adds additional nutrients (sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C and beta carotene) was a complete bonus.  You know it is good when your husband is stealing forkfuls out of the kids’ bowls 10 minutes before the adults are heading out to dinner at a nice restaurant! 

Amped Up Mac & Cheese

Serves 2-4

1 box macaroni and cheese,

1 cup cooked, mashed vegetable (sweet potato, butternut squash or acorn squash are great choices)

Prepare mac and cheese according to package directions.  Stir in mashed vegetable and heat through.  Add 1/4 cup of additional milk if mixture is too thick.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.


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2 Responses to “Mac & Cheese: Boxed Made Better”

  1. sarah s. Says:

    My kids rejected my not-very-well-hidden-apparently sweet potato version when i tried it (how do you get it smooth?), but we think putting a little trader joe’s frozen sweet corn in the mix (not pureed) makes it taste better.

    On hiding veggies – I add carrots and spinach to morning smoothies all the time and the kids call the the “secret ingredients” that makes it “taste good.” Having said that, I waited until they said they liked it before I told them the secret.

  2. Alisa-Foodista Says:

    I also liked to hide the veggies in my son’s meal. When I felt he got used to eating it, I would tell him what I’ve been hiding in his food.Then one day he surprised me by saying he always knew I was adding veggies in his meals, and he liked it.

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