guiltless mac and cheese

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!

Ingredients

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

Remaining Ingredients:

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

  1. In a pot on the stove heat milk over medium heat until warmed (you can do this in the microwave if you prefer).
  2. Melt butter in a walled saucepan on low heat.
  3. Add flour, stirring occasionally until fragrant – you do not want the roux to darken.
  4. 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.
  5. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Add onion and cook until softened.
  6. Add ground meat and break up with spatula or spoon as it cooks, browning through. Drain meat & onions in colander.
  7. When milk and roux mixture has thickened, add cloves, nutmeg, salt, pepper and cheese and stir just until cheese is melted.
  8. Toss pasta, 2 cups of cheese sauce and meat with kale, salt & pepper.
  9. Try to wait until it makes it on the plate to chow down :)!

Thoughts?