Mac-n-Cheese To Feel Good About Serving

by Trish Weese

Food. For the first six months or so of parenthood, this is the easy part of parenting. Fortunately for me and my daughter, mother nature gave me a very plentiful built-in supply, and my biggest concern with feeding was – “I’d better find a place to feed her fast, I really don’t want to repeat that Bed, Bath and Beyond incident.” (That poor cashier. I thought he was being rude when he rushed me through his line and wouldn’t look at me. When I got in my car and saw wet spots the size of pancakes on my shirt I realized why. Sorry, Bed, Bath and Beyond guy!)

By the time my girl entered the toddler years, the task of feeding her healthy, tasty meals she’d actually eat became more difficult. I checked out one of those recipe books that talked about hiding vegetables in foods – I LOVED this idea, but unfortunately the book didn‘t tell me where I could find a muti-zillionaire comedian husband with sitcom residuals to provide me with a nanny who could tend to my child while I created multiple purees and meals, a huge kitchen to prepare said purees and meals in, and a maid to clean up the mess afterwards. I was a single mom, working full-time, who wanted to feed my child healthy food I could prepare quickly and affordably, hopefully while getting dinner on the table before midnight.

Lucky me, I found that it was actually MUCH easier to do than I thought! Many kids’ classics have healthy, easy alternatives, and many can be made ahead of time and frozen. Whole wheat blueberry pancakes are easy and tasty, and can be made in big batches and frozen. Just pop in the toaster when your child is ready to eat! (And as a side note – these are also really GREAT for teething toddlers!) Just look for whole wheat pancake mix and follow the directions on the box.

Another of my daughter’s all-time favorites is homemade mac-n-cheese. This recipe was given to me by another mom, who swore by it. Once I made it for my own daughter, I understood why! While it’s not a “rush home and make it in ten minutes” recipe, it is still fairly quick and can be frozen, so it CAN be a quick meal on any other night, and is a great lunchtime alternative to peanut butter and jelly. I used to make this once a month while my daughter napped (oh, napping, how I miss those days!) and now I’ll make it on a Saturday morning while she’s watching a favorite movie, or we will make it together. I usually double the recipe and freeze in individual containers.

1 ¾
whole grain macaroni
cup flour
cup milk (I use organic)
cup grated cheddar cheese
cup grated Gruyere cheese (yeah, I know, I didn’t know what it was either. You can usually find it near the deli, where they have the parmesan wedges and other specialty cheeses.)

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside. (I usually put macaroni back in the pot I cooked it in, as this is the pot I will mix the cheese in).

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add flour, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add milk, and cook until thickened.

Add cheeses until melted, and, if you have enough room in the pan, add macaroni. If this will cause your pan to overflow, (as is the case for me, since I usually double the recipe) then go back and mix the cheese and macaroni in the pot you used to cook the macaroni in.

Mix cheese and macaroni and add salt and pepper if you’d like.

Mangia! (I’m not Italian, I just like saying that!)

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