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. 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.
Lazy Bright Yellow-Orange Mac 'n Cheese
- 16 ounce box of elbow macaroni
- 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (try smoked Gruyere)
- 1 cup shredded Colby
- 1 – 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups of cooked butternut squash, mashed or pureed
Step 1: Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and return to pan.
Step 2: Turn cooktop burner to medium-low and slowly add in cheeses. (I use a whisk.)
Step 3: Add milk as you go and continue stirring and adding milk and cheese until a creamy consistency is achieved.
Step 4: Mix in the butternut squash. Serve.
You can also dump this into a backing dish, top with bread crumbs and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Chop or even puree for the little ones, as needed.