This creamy macaroni and cheese recipe has a blend of 4 veggies, giving this family favorite recipe an amped up nutritional profile.This recipe was developed recently for a partnership with BUB Society, a network for parents and families. They are just launching a great new program for families, which includes tons of perks, including opportunities for parents to connect with other families.
A really neat part of the membership is the BUB Box, which is delivered monthly to each family. The boxes contain everything needed for a fun family night, including snacks and an activity, all ready to go, to help generate conversation and create a bonding experience. BUB boxes will also include a Vitamin Sunshine recipe geared specifically towards making a healthy, family favorite meal, with the whole family included.
I’ve been making this Mac ‘n Cheese recipe for a while now- and recently made it with a neighbor and her 2 kids. Xander loves helping in the kitchen, but his “helping” includes a lot of mess and chaos at this point (love him). My friend’s older daughter is 3, and she had a ton of fun helping me measure the macaroni, stir the sauce into the macaroni, and add the toppings before we baked this dish.
Including Kids in the Kitchen
- Bringing kids into the kitchen teaches them about healthy eating and gifts them an important life skill. It’s also a great opportunity to bond as a family, especially if parents work outside the home and have limited time together during the week.
- Kids are more likely to be adventurous with food choices if they feel pride in helping to make a dish.
- Veggies are pureed into a sauce and used to make this creamy macaroni and cheese. It’s good for kids to think vegetables are a “normal” ingredient in meals. Don’t hide the veggie puree!
- Younger kids can help measure and pour ingredients, and love helping to stir the pot. Even making a young child the official “taste tester” is an important job.
- Older kids can help peel and chop veggies, and will love getting to add the cheese, broccoli and breadcrumbs to the top of this dish. Who cares if breadcrumbs end up on the floor!
Tips for Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- This recipe works best if assembled right before baked and enjoyed. I tried assembling it during the day, and baking it in the evening, but the veggie sauce gets absorbed into the pasta. It’s still delicious, but not a very creamy macaroni and cheese.
- Make it Ahead: To prep this recipe ahead of time, prepare the veggie puree, cook the pasta, and prepare the toppings, but keep all the items separately until ready to bake. Right before baking, mix the puree and cheese into the pasta, and then add the toppings. This will keep the sauce from being absorbed and the dish becoming dry.
- Save Time: Buying a bag of pre chopped broccoli, carrots and cauliflower will help save time in this recipe. Pre shredded cheese will also speed things along. I make my own brown rice breadcrumbs for this recipe to keep it gluten free, but any whole grain store bought breadcrumbs can be substituted.
- Make is Gluten Free: I make this dish gluten free by using Ancient Harvest Quinoa Elbows. I am not sure if you can buy Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta in a macaroni shape, but I really enjoy their brown rice pasta and it’s a great price. It is a bit harder to work with than the Ancient Harvest pasta- it needs to be stirred often to keep from clumping together and gets gummy if overcooked. This recipe can be made with any type of pasta that works for your family, but I recommend choosing a whole grain option. I make my own bread crumbs using brown rice crisp cereal.
Other Sneaky Veggie Family Favorite Recipes:
- The One and Only Guacamole, by The Sneaky Chef
- Smashed Root Vegetables, by Jessica Seinfield
- The Best Veggie Pancakes, by Healthy Happy Mama
- Secret Veggie Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt, by Vitamin Sunshine
- Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken and Rice, by Vitamin Sunshine
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