Take a good look at that bowl of mac -n- cheese. You may be thinking that this bowl filled with bright yellow-orange macaroni has to be made from “that” cheese food product. You might also be wondering why on earth I would choose to post a recipe for mac -n- cheese that has to be unhealthy, judging by the look of it all. Here’s the good news, macaroni and even cheese are two food products that can be fun and yes, even totally nutritious, for older babies and toddlers. The secret to making it healthy and nutritious is in how you prepare it and what ingredients you use.
Let’s face it, there will be a day when your child may encounter that orange unhealthy macaroni and cheese dish. It’s ok and even my kiddos have eaten it a few times. Remember, moderation and the availability of healthier and yummier alternatives is key 🙂 My version has been “fooling” kids and adults alike for a few years now. Eyes light up around the table when the mac -n- cheese comes out and little lips smack in anticipation of tasting this ooey-gooey cheesy wonder. Below you will see an image that captures my little yellow-orange secret:
Ah Ha! It’s butternut squash. Yes folks, this recipe contains not just a mix of fine cheeses but also a good helping of roasted and mashed butternut squash. With the Fall season passing into Winter, the super squash varieties are plentiful. Rather than tossing out the leftovers or groaning about eating squash – again, give an old recipe a boost of color and of nutrition! Babies will love to smear the cheesy squashy sauce around while chasing bits of macaroni and the adults will enjoy a “comfort” food dish as well. Suitable for babies who are fine with dairy and wheat, give this simple recipe a try and include your little ones in the family meal.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 8 oz box elbow macaroni noodles
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain when cooked and keep in colander.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Slowly pour milk into butter-flour mixture while continuously stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
- Add cheddar cheese to milk mixture and stir until cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Add cooked macaroni to pot; pour cheese sauce over macaroni and stir well. Add in butternut squash puree to individual servings and enjoy!
Butternut Squash Puree
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Cut one butternut squash in half, length and scoop out seeds
- Place squash on baking sheet, meat side up, and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hours
- Once cooked, scoop out flesh and puree to a thin consistency, adding water or even half water/half apple juice.
- Add the puree to the cooked macaroni and enjoy!