Skip the boxed macaroni and cheese and make this dish for your family instead! My mac and cheese is easy to make and a lot healthier.
As some of you know, my cookbook, Natural Pregnancy Cookbook, was recently released. The follow up book, which is due to be released next month, is called Natural Baby Food. I’m really excited about this project because it features over 125 nutritious recipes for babies and toddlers. And the last section in the book includes easy dishes that the whole family can enjoy together. While I was writing the book, I got to test many of the recipes on my own daughter Sienna!
When Katrina from Mama’s Organized Chaos approached me about teaming up to review some of the recipes from the book, I was all for it! After all, I would love to get feedback from real moms who are interested in making nutritious, homemade food for their little ones. So, each month for the next four months, this group of mamas will try out one of my recipes from the book and then rate them in categories such as taste and ease of preparation. The recipes they will be testing are:
- Sweet Potato Pancakes
- Turkey Florentine Meatballs
- Zucchini Tots
- Tropical Rice Pudding
If you are interested in joining the group and getting a sneak peak at some of the recipes from the book, head over to the Facebook group HERE. We would love to get more people to participate!
First up for the taste testers was my Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower. When I was brainstorming ideas for this book, I just knew I had to include a macaroni and cheese recipe. I mean, what kid doesn’t like mac and cheese? It definitely was my favorite dish growing up. But I wanted to add something to up the nutrition of the dish. One simple substitution I made was to use whole grain pasta instead of traditional pasta. You should aim to make half of all the grains you (and your little ones) eat be whole grains. The second change I made was to include cauliflower in the dish. Cauliflower is packed with powerful antioxidants as well as fiber, protein and an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli was the first vegetable that popped into my head but a lot of kids will revolt at the site of those green trees. Cauliflower has similar health benefits as broccoli and it has a mild flavor. And when you roast it in the oven, it gets nicely caramelized and crispy on the edges.
Overall, this recipe was approved by all of the mamas in the group- yay! Some of the feedback was that the cheese may have been a little strong for their little ones. If that’s the case, you may want to start with a mild cheddar or even Monterey Jack (or a mixture). Either choice would be a healthier option than using processed cheese.
Mac and Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower
Makes about 5 servings
3 cups small cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces elbow macaroni, preferably whole grain
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk*
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese*
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss the florets with the oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until edges are browned and cauliflower is cooked, 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Cook a minutes until the paste is a light tan. Whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking often, until a smooth sauce forms. Whisk in the mustard and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it is thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until fully melted.
Add the cooked macaroni and roasted cauliflower to the sauce and stir to combine well.
One serving: Calories 425; Fat 19.8g (Sat 11.7g); Protein 18.5g; Carb 44.4g; Fiber 5.1g; Sodium 479mg
* Note that the nutritional calculations for this recipe use whole milk and full-fat cheese because unless otherwise directed by your doctor, babies and toddlers under 2 should not be eating reduced-fat or fat-free products. They need the fat for proper growth and development. For adults, you can reduce the calories and fat content by substituting reduced-fat milk and cheese.