I found this recipe for mac and cheese via Pinterest. It includes pumpkin puree which I thought sounded great. I had sweet potato puree that I had made Juliet a couple weeks ago in my freezer, so I thawed out some of that and added it (instead of pumpkin). Either would work. Adding this is awesome because it ups the nutritional value and gives the mac and cheese a rich, orange color, which is what we're used to seeing (unfortunately) from the artificial dyes in the Kraft boxed kind. To see some inspiring women create change in the food industry regarding artificial dyes at Kraft Foods, check out this blog post from Food Babe.
This mac and cheese seriously took about 15 minutes. It's so quick you can do mostly everything (make the roux and chop extra veggies) while the noodles boil. I had an organic zucchini and squash in my fridge so I decided to chop that up and add to the dish.
Mac and cheese with sweet potatoes (recipe via Simple Bites)
- 1 box (8 oz.) whole wheat macaroni pasta (I used whole wheat rotini, these are super easy for Juliet to pick up with her little fingers, I cut them in half before giving them to her)
- 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
- ½ cup canned pumpkin*
- 1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling water according to package instructions, about 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside in large bowl.
- Begin making the cheese sauce by melting butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Once completely melted, add the flour little by little and mix with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cook flour and butter mixture for about 3 minutes, but do not let brown. Remove from heat and slowly add milk; mix with whisk until well combined. Return to medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add nutmeg and sweet potatoes (pumpkin puree or squash works as well). Remove from heat and add grated cheese; stir until cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth.
- In a large bowl, pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta. Mix sauce and pasta until well combined. The mixture may appear a bit soupy but the pasta will absorb more of the cheese sauce as it sits. Once cooled, chop slightly in food processor for small babies or keep whole for toddlers.
*Can substitute pureed sweet potato with pumpkin puree or butternut squash. I also included half of an organic yellow squash and zucchini (chopped into small pieces) and added it to the milk/cheese mixture prior to combining with the noodles. This slightly cooks and softens the squash/zucchini to make it appropriate for toddlers who might not have all their teeth!
Juliet was my taste-tester and loved it! She also was giving her new Oogaa spoon a try and did so good with it! She isn't coordinated enough yet to scoop up the food but she understands the concept and loves eating with a spoon. Mama helped her out a lot. This recipe made a lot of mac and cheese and Juliet will be eating it for lunch a couple times this week and I am also taking a serving for lunch tomorrow. It's great for adults, too! I would just recommend adding salt and pepper to taste because I found it to be a bit sweeter than I prefer (but this is also most likely why Juliet loved it!).