It’s not cheese. It’s not fake cheese. Just shells and butternut squash, seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper.
Really. Too easy. And both of my kiddos think this is Mac N Cheese. HeeHee 😀
I’ve tried adding green things to mac and cheese to up my kiddos veggie intake. This worked until my oldest was about 3, and clearly was not pleased with the assortment of green things in his mac and cheese, and would let me know as he pulled them out of his plate (or out of his mouth) one by one. Still, mac and cheese remains a favorite around here, sooo I am often experimenting with ways to make it healthier. (I do however have a fancy-smancy adult mac and cheese with little savory green things like scallions and garlic and asparagus that I LOVE…and will post it eventually…too bad the 3 year old is not at all impressed with it). However, when I dumped a bag of frozen butternut squash in the mac and cheese water one night and it came out looking like this, I knew this was a winner. I mean, it even looks like mac and cheese.
Soooo … without further ado
1) boil water (add salt/oil (optional), just as if you were preparing regular pasta
2) add pasta of choice (shells worked great, I chose whole wheat for added health benefits). if you’re going more for taste or are not used to ww pasta, stick with the regular)
3) wait until pasta has cooked 1/2 of the package cooking time (this will vary slightly depending on the type of pasta you choose), about 5 minutes
4) add your bag of frozen butternut squash to the boiling water. wait for reboil, squash should be very soft and noodles cooked. about 6 minutes.
5) drain the water. it will just look like squash pieces and noodles.
6) add butter (2-4 tablespoons, depending on taste), salt, and pepper.
If you like a milder taste, and want to leave out the cheese entirely, stop here. your kids (maybe even your husband) will be fooled :).
If you like a stronger taste, and want to keep it healthy, just sprinkle parmesan on top
If you like a stronger taste, and don’t care about calories … add some extra sharp cheddar (I’m a big fan of Cabot’s Seriously Sharp
Sooo … thats it. Plenty of room for creativity and your own tweaks. Faster than box mac and cheese. WAY HEALTHIER :). More veggies on our plates, check!
****Note: I grew up on homemade mac and cheese, so I’ve never been a fan of the box mac and cheese, and my kiddos have never eaten it. If you are looking for a comparison to that, this might be a little different. But hey …kids are big on looks when it comes to their food, so try it :), they may still be fooled.