Every day each of us makes a near-constant string of choices when it comes to our diet. Ordering off menus, grocery shopping, and snacking your way through your pantry all present decisions – baked or fried, fresh or frozen, tasty or “healthy”. When you work against your own preferences and cravings, the decisions are by no means simple. You’d think having a child would make things harder, but with Tess I haven’t found that to be the case.
If I only give her healthy options, she should be a healthy eater. Her preferences, clearly illustrated these days, cause her diet to be far from perfect – it’s too protein heavy (cheese, chicken, black beans, peanut butter, nuts) with few fruits and veggies to be found (unless they’re blended into a smoothie), but I am glad that by and large she eats “whole foods”.
I have yet to buy boxed mac and cheese or frozen chicken nuggets (I am NOT bragging – I just figure if she’s eating other stuff then why buy the more typical toddler food and allow her to realize that mac and cheese and nuggets taste way better than what she’s been eating). Imagine my surprise when we walked into the kitchen the other day for lunch and she asked me for “macaroni”. Are the other kids at the gym/church childcare bragging about what their cool moms give them for lunch? How did she even learn this word?
I threw together a quick version that, honestly, I didn’t think would come together right. I was surprised when it did but then thrilled when she gobbled down the whole bowl and asked for it for breakfast the next morning. I’ve made it almost every day this week, either for lunch or dinner, and figured I’d share it with you. In the rare occasions she didn’t finish her bowl, I’ve happily finished it for her. YUM. You don’t need to be 2 to enjoy this.
I haven’t looked at the box of Annie’s mac and cheese, but I know it’s a staple in all of my friend’s houses. I’m sure it’s great, and those of you who are Annie’s-faithful have probably already stopped reading this post. I’m sharing this because I KNOW there are lots of cooks out there like me, who would have liked to see this recipe months ago. Whole grain pasta, real cheese – you can use organic butter/cheese/milk though I didn’t here. You could EVEN use whole wheat flour, though for the negligible amount of added health the all-purpose flour thickens a bit better. Try it and let me know what your kids think! Oh and double/triple the recipe if you have double/triple the kids.
10 Minute Stove-top Healthy Mac and Cheese for 1
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. whole wheat pasta shape (rotini, penne, macaroni, fusilli, shells, etc)
Big pinch kosher salt
1/2 c. grated cheese (Swiss, Mozzarella, Cheddar, etc – anything that will melt)
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 c. milk
pinch salt and pepper – to taste
1. Bring water to boil. Add pasta and big pinch of kosher salt. Boil until tender, and drain out water.
2. Turn heat to medium low and, returning the pasta to the pot if drained in colander, and add grated cheese, parmesan, butter, flour and milk. Stir until saucy and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (about a pinch of each, depending on what types of cheese you used). Serve.