I’m as Aussie as they come, so while we don’t live in the country of Mac n’ Cheese (America), surely there’s barely a kid in the world that doesn’t love the combination of pasta, cheesy sauce and melted cheese and my kids are no exception.
However there no similarities when it comes to the ingredients in the Mac N’ Cheese that is devoured in our house and the blue-boxed stuff that comes from the supermarket.
Store bought Mac n’ Cheese is typically filled with modified synthetic flavours, synthetic vitamins, sulphates, potassium chloride (which can cause dehydration) and a few chemical numbers that make the cheese so yellow. A true chemical sh*tstorm and not one I would feed to my kids.
We do things differently at our house and our kids LOVE this Mac n’ Cheese recipe.
Full disclosure: We have never fed them on a diet of processed foods and to be honest they have never eaten Mac n’ Cheese out of the box before, so because they have had nothing to compare it to we see big smiles all around. Many children who are raised eating a highly processed diet are addicted to the sugars, salts and artificial flavours and preservatives in processed foods and they may not like the taste of this… to begin with.
To be able to have to enjoy something that looks the same but is actually made of real foods can take some patience because a child’s palate may not be accustomed to the flavour of real foods, their taste-buds may have been ruined with toxic substances. Their bodies also crave the toxins in processed foods and breaking that habit can be as hard as a drug addict becoming sober.
The fact that it IS that serious a dependancy should explain in itself why we need to move kids back to real foods.
My daughter Holly had a friend stay over recently and we made Mac n’ Cheese for their dinner. Her friend took one bite of this, pushed the bowl away and said “THIS is NOT the Mac n’ Cheese I like.” Holly then ate her own Mac n’ Cheese, her friends Mac n’ Cheese and went back for thirds.
If you have decided to start to clean up the diet of your children then firstly I applaud you and offer heartfelt congratulations. You rock. Secondly, I ask you to have a lot of patience. You are going to need it, but it’s not going to take forever and it is worth it.
We don’t eat a lot of pasta, but when we do we stick to something that is made of buckwheat flour these days. Buckwheat is a seed that actually comes from the rhubarb family and has 9 essential amino acids, nearly 20% protein and is gentle on the tummy.
The orange ‘cheese’ in our Mac n’ Cheese is actually blended carrots and pumpkin mixed with nutritional yeast and grass-fed butter. Sometimes we use sweet potato also. When the kids dig in, they get that orange colour, the cheesy flavour (which comes from the nutritional yeast and butter) and that melted cheese on top that makes Mac n’ Cheese so delish.
If your kids can’t have dairy or you have decided to remove for allergy testing, like in the elimination diet, you can simply leave the melted cheese from the top and leave the butter out of the blend. The nutritional yeast leaves the noodles tasting cheesy already.
Our kids eat cheese every few days and we buy the Nimbin Natural brand and comes from happy cows (we’ve been to the farm).
*If you are just starting to shift your kids off white wheat pasta and they are really hooked on it, then consider using an organic pasta or even better, organic spelt pasta and then moving to buckwheat pasta down the track, slowly adding buckwheat pasta to the wheat pasta until you have eventually swapped them over entirely. I recommend doing this also with the sauce – if you have kids hooked on the packaged sauce mix – by slowly adding some of the sauce in this recipe each time you make the recipe.
Their taste-buds will change and adjust as the meal becomes healthier and eventually mirrors this recipe.
While I recommend complete swaps immediately for adults, I understand that there can be a very rough period with kids when altering their diet, so I am trying to give you options you can use that will see you making healthier choices over time, crowding in the best food while crowding out more damaging food-like stuff’s.
Pasta is not an ‘everyday meal’. I recommend eating food it as close to its natural state as possible.
Mac n’ Cheese – Done Healthy
Ingredients – makes 4-6 serves (keep some in the fridge for later)
- 4 cups of noodles or pasta (cooked to packet instructions)
- 1.5 cups pumpkin and carrot puree (Steam pumpkin and carrots until they are very soft and then blend or process them until smooth)
- 2 tbs grass-fed butter
- 1 cup of grated cheese
- 3 tbs nutritional yeast
- pinch of sea salt
- Cook the pasta to packet instructions and steam your pumpkin and carrot at the same time.
- Blend the pumpkin and carrot in a food processor or blender (if you have neither simply mash by hand).
- Add butter, sea salt and nutritional yeast and blend or stir to combine.
- Toss the pumpkin and carrot mix through the pasta and place into a casserole dish or individual ramekins and sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Melt cheese under the grill, allow to cool slightly and serve.