Everyone’s favorite comfort food…how can you feed your babies mac and cheese without feeling guilty? It’s easy – use whole wheat pasta (and less of it), add some protein and veggies and mix with a homemade cheese sauce to serve a hearty and delicious comfort-food meal that’s nutritious!
For cheese sauce:
(this will make about 6 cups, which is enough for 3 batches of this recipe. it freezes beautifully, so just pour into a zip-top freezer bag and you’re halfway home to the next batch of mac & cheese! or bechamel lasagna, or casserole, etc.)
5 cups whole milk
4 tbs butter
4 tbs flour
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese – you can use any kind, I am partial to Havarti and Fontina, but works great with Cheddar or even Gorgonzola
1 tbsp olive oil
1 whole sweet onion, diced
1 lb ground meat (I used 95/5 beef, but you can use ground turkey, chicken, etc.)
1/2 lb cooked whole wheat pasta shells (or elbows or whatever your kiddos prefer)
1 cup frozen shredded kale (and/or other veggies – we often add peas and broccoli)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
- In a pot on the stove heat milk over medium heat until warmed (you can do this in the microwave if you prefer).
- Melt butter in a walled saucepan on low heat.
- Add flour, stirring occasionally until fragrant – you do not want the roux to darken.
- Slowly whisk the warm milk into the butter and flour mixture. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently until thickened to a creamy soup consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Add onion and cook until softened.
- Add ground meat and break up with spatula or spoon as it cooks, browning through. Drain meat & onions in colander.
- When milk and roux mixture has thickened, add cloves, nutmeg, salt, pepper and cheese and stir just until cheese is melted.
- Toss pasta, 2 cups of cheese sauce and meat with kale, salt & pepper.
- Try to wait until it makes it on the plate to chow down :)!