We all know we’re supposed to eat a generous portion of vegetables with every meal — but it doesn’t always work out to be so easy. With all the unhealthy temptations out there calling our names, vegetables tend to get overlooked. There are a few tricks, however, to get finicky eaters — especially children — to stop resisting and start munching their way toward good health.
Try one of the following six recipes to get your family back on the right nutritional path, without sacrificing the delicious tastes of your favorite foods.
1. A Better Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is one of the most popular dishes among all ages — but it’s not known for being too healthy. This recipe from Thriving Home Blog does the dish a nutritional favor by incorporating sweet potato into its cheesy base, adding an interesting and tasty level of flavor to the savory dish. Recipe takes about an hour to complete and yields eight to ten servings. To make ahead of time, prepare the macaroni as directed and freeze before baking.
- 1 ½ pound (20 ounces) whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 2 small sweet potatoes, microwaved or baked until soft (1 ½ cups cooked carrots can be substituted)
- 2 ½ cups milk
- ¾ cup pasta water
- ¾ cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups grated cheese of your choosing
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Optional: 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but still a bit firm. Reserve ¾ cup of pasta water. Drain pasta in strainer/colander and set aside. Toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking.
Meanwhile, place the sweet potato, milk, pasta water, yogurt, salt, and pepper into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the milk mixture into the same pot in which you cooked the pasta. Stir frequently over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is almost simmering. Turn to low and slowly whisk in the cheese a little bit at a time. Stir until mostly melted and smooth. Cooking Note: The cheese sauce will seem runny/soupy but it thickens up in the oven.
Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish. Combine bread crumbs, olive oil, and dried parsley in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.