Quick Fixes for Boxed Mac 'N Cheese
by Missy Chase Lapine
There’s not a kids’ menu in the United States that doesn’t offer some variation of macaroni and cheese — the favorite — if not the most popular — of American comfort foods. Kraft now sells more than one million boxes every day! And the beauty of even the packaged version is that its cheesy creaminess offers ample opportunity for sneaky chefs to slip in extra nutrition that even the toughest little critics won’t detect. Try to keep a straight face as your kids beg for more of these surprisingly healthy variations.
Each of the nutritional boosters listed here have been kid tested and have proven to be undetectable in taste, texture and color. Start by adding the least amount recommended of just one of the nutritional purees listed below. Add a little more each time you serve this dish (which is served in our house every day!) You can also mix two or more of the purees or boosters, as long as the total is no more than about half cup total, per six ounce box of macaroni and cheese.
White Bean Puree:
2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and rough chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary
Steam cauliflower in a vegetable steamer over 2 inches of water, using a tightly-covered pot, for about 10 to 12 minutes until very tender. Alternatively, place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl , cover with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes until very tender.
While waiting for the cauliflower to finish steaming, start to pulse the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice only (no water at this point). Drain the cooked cauliflower. Working in batches if necessary, add it to the pulsed zucchini in the bowl of the food processor with one tablespoon of water. Puree on high until smooth. Stop occasionally and push contents from the top to the bottom. If necessary, use the second tablespoon of water to make a smooth (but not wet) puree.