A better mac 'n' cheese boosts veggie content

Juliana Luciani

Still trying to get your kids to be friendly with veggies? Add them to a recipe they already like. Incorporating vegetables into your family's favorite recipes helps give them a healthy boost without sacrificing the foods they love.

While they're home on school vacation, let your kids help prepare the meal. They can help wash vegetables, measure ingredients and place them in the dish before it is cooked. Keep in mind that kids are more apt to eat what they make. Lastly, be a veggie role model. When your child sees you snacking on colorful vegetables they may be more likely to give them a try.

Not sure where to begin? The recipe below can help get you started. You can use any variety of vegetables. It's sure to be a hit with the entire family.

Veggie-Packed Mac (& Cheese)


1 pound rotini or large elbow pasta

3 cups mixed vegetables (broccoli and summer squash work well in this recipe)

2 tablespoons light margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups nonfat milk

1/2 pound thinly sliced reduced-fat American cheese

1/4 cup plain or seasoned bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese - to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add pasta. Wash and chop vegetables into medium size pieces - add vegetables to boiling pasta about 5 minutes before it is fully cooked.

Break cheese slices into fours and set aside. Great job for kids!

Prepare cheese sauce: Melt margarine over low heat; add flour and stir (mixture will be lumpy). Add milk and stir continuously until mixture comes to a low boil. Add cheese slowly and continue to stir until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large colander drain pasta and vegetables; pour into baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and vegetables; mix well. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and add parmesan cheese to taste. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 9 servings, about 1 cup each.

Nutritional information per serving: 280 calories; 15g protein; 45g carbohydrate; 4g fat; 430mg sodium; 10mg cholesterol; 2g fiber

For more healthy family ideas, visit MetroWest Kids at www.metrowestkids.org, the Web page of MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation.