Healthier Mac and Cheese Recipe

Healthier Kid-Friendly Recipe: Macaroni and Cheese

child eating mac and cheese

Healthier Kid-Friendly Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese can be a main or side dish. The difference is the portion size – 1 cup is a main course and ½ cup is a side dish (served with lean protein, like beans, poultry, fish, etc).

The below recipe is for basic mac and cheese. You can create many different healthy variations by adding vegetables like broccoli, or making it “Mexi” by adding salsa and corn (see note at bottom).

Makes 6 servings: ½ cup per serving

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz whole grain pasta
  • 6 oz reduced-fat American cheese, grated
  • 5 oz reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • Topping: ½ cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions, set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the flour and the oil to create a paste, or roux. (A roux works as a thickener for sauces and soups. It is equal parts flour and fat.)
  3. In a large pan on medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer, add the paste and mix thoroughly. As the milk thickens, slowly add the chicken stock.
  4. When this thickens, slowly add in the American and cheddar cheese. Mix well until blended.
  5. Add the cooked pasta and mix well to coat evenly in sauce. Transfer to prepared baking dish and top with remaining shredded cheddar.
  6. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cook’s notes:

  • For best results, choose a block of low fat cheddar roughly 50% of the fat and calories of regular cheese (Boar’s Head and Cabot brands are favorites). Grate using a food processor or a small hand-held grater. Or let the kids grate the cheese!
  • For a Mexi version of this, add ½ cup salsa, 1 cup corn, 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground pepper in step 5.

For more healthy eating tips, tricks and recipes, visit our Healthy Eating board on Pinterest.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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Shelly Frank, RD, LD

About the Author: Shelly Frank, RD, LD

Shelly Frank, RD, LD is a clinical dietitian with the Center for Better Health and Nutrition and the HealthWorks! programs within Cincinnati Children's Heart Institute. Shelly has been providing pediatric weight management services at Cincinnati Children’s for over 15 years.

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