My son loves macaroni and cheese, or as he lovingly calls them, “yellow noodles.” Key word being, “yellow.” You try to serve him some fancy Fontina/Gruyere concoction, he will summon the depths of his rage and unleash his fury upon thee. Only noodles tinted with the yellow-orange hue of the sun will appease my picky eater.
Fortunately, there are several options in the organic/all-natural department. Amy’s brand frozen mac ‘n cheese is delicious, and tastes the most “home made.” My son loves it and could eat a package or two a day if I let him. While it is one of the “healthier” choices, it’s still a frozen meal, which tend to be higher in sodium, and they aren’t exactly cheap. At one Brooklyn supermarket, a single-serve box could cost as much as $6. I’m no mathematician, but even I know there are better ways to stretch a dollar.
Although I have made my own mac ‘n cheese before, it never appealed to my son’s particular tastes. Because I tend to only purchase white cheese, my noodles always lacked the distinctive yellow/orange color he loved. I really wanted to make a version my son would love.
Inspiration found me in the form of a butternut squash at a local farm market. I love this vegetable and it was the perfect shade: orange. I thought if I pureed it fine enough and mixed it with a ton of cheesy goodness, I just might have a healthy hit on my hands.
I went straight to the kitchen and whipped up my recipe, making sure to achieve the right consistency and flavor. When I served the finished product to my son, I watched eagerly as he took his first bite. He picked up a noodle with his fork, examined it thoroughly as to ensure nothing had tainted his favorite treat, and began to chew. A smile spread across his face, and he happily finished what was on his plate and asked for seconds. I barely had enough left to serve the rest of my family.
I am not an expert cook, nor am I an expert in getting kids to eat right. I am just a mom figuring it out as she goes. This time, I happened to get it right. If you decide to give this recipe a try, let me know how it goes in the comments!
Please note, I cook mostly by eye, so measurements are approximation. Adjust accordingly to achieve desired texture and flavor.
Butternut Squash Mac ‘N Cheese
1 box shells, macaroni or other favorite pasta
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and diced into approximately 1-inch cubes
8 Oz sharp, white cheddar shredded
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
Cook pasta about one minute shy of the recommended cooking time. (Remember they will keep cooking when you add the sauce.)
In a medium sauce pan, add butternut squash and just enough water to cover them. Boil for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Reduce heat to low and add yogurt and cheese, stirring well.
Slowly add milk to achieve desired thickness.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If your kid isn’t picky about texture, you can go ahead and stir this right into the cooked pasta.
If they prefer a smoother sauce, you will need to break out the blender.
If you have an immersion blender, that will certainly make things easier, but a regular blender or food processor works just fine.
Puree the mixture until it reaches your desired consistency.
Add mixture to pasta, and, voila, a gorgeous, macaroni and cheese with a healthy kick.