If you have a rice cooker, this mac and cheese recipe is SO SO easy and delicious (and much better for kids then the boxed variety)! http://weelicious.com/2010/03/03/rice-cooker-mac-cheese/
My son who just turned one loves mac and cheese. I have been buying those organic boxed ones for him to eat. I also got some regular Kraft boxed ones. Just wondering if boxed mac and cheese is really bad for kids? I thought of making my own but I still will be using processed cheese to melt into it ( I really don't know what type of cheese melts well in making mac and cheese).
I want the best for my son so I am torn as to what I should do.
If you have a rice cooker, this mac and cheese recipe is SO SO easy and delicious (and much better for kids then the boxed variety)! http://weelicious.com/2010/03/03/rice-cooker-mac-cheese/
Boxed mac & cheese is basically empty calories. That's why you can eat a ton of it and not feel full. It's really not that good for you. Once in awhile isn't bad, but I'd stay away from more than once every couple of weeks. Look at the nutrition information on the back o f the box and you'll see what I mean.
The softer the cheese, the better it melts, and the better it stays melted. When I make homemade mac and cheese, I start with a white sauce which is basically a rue (another poster gave you a perfect recipe for that), with milk added. I use 1 cup of cheese for every cup of milk I add to the rue. But you can use more or less depending on how cheesy you like it. I usually use a combination of American, montery jack and a sharp cheddar, but you can use whatever you like. Add the cheese, either shredded or cubed to the white sauce until it melts, then mix it into cooked pasta. If you want it fancy, top with some extra shredded cheese, or Ritz cracker crumbs and bake it till it bubbles. As another poster said, the pre-shredded stuff doesn't work as well, plus it's more expensive. I also tend to stay away from the "cheese food product" type cheeses because of the chemicals, but they do melt really nicely. You can also Google mac and cheese, and you'll probably get about a billion different recipes.
If you learn to make a good roux, then add cheese to it, you can make great mac and cheese. In fact, you can take that cream sauce (the roux) and add peas, or tuna, or chicken, or anything really, serve it over toast and call it a simple meal, with a side of fruit.
I will admit to using the boxed stuff on occasion, however.
oh, here's my recipe (similar to the one in Betty Crocker)
*melt 1 T butter in a sauce pan, don't let it turn brown
*add 1 T flour and whisk together, let "cook" for a minute, it will bind together (if you don't let the flour cook a bit, the sauce will taste pasty)
*slowly add 1 cup of milk, while whisking, mix well and bring to a rolling boil, keep stirring the whole time!
*add up to 1 cup of your choice of cheese, better to use the chunk kind, b/c the shredded kind has additives that make it not stick together, and these can taste funny in the sauce
* or add a can of tuna or some chicken or peas, etc...
Serve the cheesy sauce over pasta or the non-cheesy over toast (hearty whole grain bread works best)
edited to add:
you can use broth instead of milk, and then you just made gravy :)
also, if you heat the liquid first, it helps it mix more quickly in the pan and takes less time to come to a boil. less liquid=thicker sauce
This is what is listed on the label:
In just 1 cup of Mac and cheese there are:
7 g of sugar
1 g of fibre (there is more in the box itself than in the product)
19 g of fat 4.5 g of SAT fat and 4 grams of TRANS fat (question where are the other 11 g of fat coming from????)
11 g of protein
710 mg of sodium.
HERE IS WHAT I KNOW
our bodies metabolize 300 - 400 calories per every 3 hours
7 g of sugar is 2 teaspoons of sugar
we need 20-30 g of fiber per day
as for protein, basically it is 1 g for every pound you weigh. So if your son weighs 30 pounds, he should get 30 g of GOOD protein
No meal should ever be over 20% , it takes too long for the body to digest it.
I kind of agree to the EVERYTHING IN MODERATION comment, but you have to think about it. Would you give you child cigarettes “in moderation”? How about alcohol “in moderation”? Many of the “foods” that we feed out children today are WORSE than alcohol to them…because they are so full of processed garbage their bodies target the “food” as a poison and create the fat to protect it. AKA childhood weight issues.
Please do not be fooled by “organic” boxes…they are STILL PROCESSED – albeit with better ingredients. PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF – read books, attend classes, get a wellness coach, but PLEASE LEARN how to feed your family. There is a wonderful ebook available at http://www.heyyougetreal.com/FoodRules.html. It is sooo worth it to get your family on track.
Family Nutrition Coach
Do millions of teens and college students basically live off kraft mac and cheese? Do they survive? There ya go...
I'm sure it's not as good for you as other stuff, but it can't be that horrible.
It tastes great, it's easy to make, and it's relatively cheap. What's the problem? :)
I read an article once that said, in regard to childhood obesity concerns, the problem with feeding your kids mac & cheese regularly is the excessive sodium, fat and calories (not to mention the yellow and red food dye = hyperactivity and out of control behavior). I'll see if I can find the article, but I seem to recall it saying something like it had 3 times the recommended sodium for children. Personnally, I don't think you ought to train your 1 year old's taste pallet to be geared to only demand processed food--and you will be surprised how fast that can happen! When my daughter was 18-36 months, so many other moms lamented to me how their kids "would only eat mac & cheese, chick-fil-a, and McDonald's". My advice to you: Don't start the habit to begin with! Food temper-tantrums of a 2 and 3 year old are not fun! What your objective should be is to get his tastes to enjoy normal food without all the sauces and calorie/fat enrichments. Besides, for a 1 year old, all you need to do is cook up a little whole gain pasta and melt/microwave some shredded cheddar cheese over it. Melted butter (because a *little* butter and olive oil in their diet is needed for brain cell development) and vegetable pasta is also good alternative.
I wouldn't have thought much about it until I read 'The Unhealthy Truth' about our nations food supply and our regulatory systems allowing things that other countries do not allow. Basically in other countries, chemicals must be proven safe to be allowed in their food supply. In our country, chemicals must be proven UNsafe before they are NOT allowed in our food supply. Very scary. Especially since the people funding the "tests" are also producing the chemicals. Read the book, it will scare the pants off you and make you a smarter mom when it comes to your families eating habits/health. Kraft is a huge no-no. Here's a link for the book on Amazon.. http://www.amazon.com/Unhealthy-Truth-Food-Making-About/d....
Processed cheese uses a form of aluminum, that is what makes the cheese melt easily. If you boil the milk and then add shreaded regular cheese (we like Colby or Cheddar), it melts in just a few minutes on the stovetop. Then add the cooked macaroni, bake for 1/2 hour at 350 to make it extra yummy. No aluminum involved. A great recipe is in the Betty Crocker cookbook if you want to spice it up.
Don't know much about boxed mac 'n cheese, but as a general rule I read the ingredients on boxes. If I don't know what they are, I avoid. Plus, that bright orange color worries me. How natural could that be? Organic is a better choice.
PLEASE do not use processed cheese for your young son. It's all chemicals -- it stunts their growth and has ingredients on the possible cancer-causing list! If you don't believe me, read the long ingredients and look them up!
Just experiment with cheeses. I grate up four kinds to keep in tight jars in the fridge, the kids sprinkle on what they like. I try for organic when possible, now that they make the orange organic - but when they have choices, they sometimes use all four, which is yummy! Even at 1, my boys would toss and handful into the pan, and loved helping. And when they help make it, they eat it. They add it to broccoli and other 'yucky' foods and it goes a long way to helping them eat them. Now they are 5 and 10 and eat almost everything.
Please save the processed for those occasional fairs or movies on nachos. Your children deserve the very best from you. And chemicals are dangerous. Our parents didn't know as much - the food companies were not required to list ingredients - and now they are. We must be the next generation - evolving and growing. And there are great recipes online - as fast as a box!
I fully believe anything in moderation, is totally fine. I always look at in the way, that I want to give my son the best eating habits I can. So, in moderation, of course it's not bad. He has mac and cheese every so often. Keep in mind, mac and cheese...is still processed junk food. It doesn't have a whole lot of nutritional value and excessive amounts of sodium.
And yes, lots of people live off mac and cheese. Obviously, they survive. Are they healthy...100%, absolutely not. You can't live off the junk and be healthy sorry.
Hi! I have an 4yo that totally loves mac&cheese, he can eat everyday if I let him! He loves Annies whole wheat, so I really don't mind that he eat alot those mac&cheese because I make sure he eat all veggies and fruits! He is perfect fine and VERY healthy!
Give in moderation and good luck!
We make our own and my kids love it. You melt 1 tb. butter, then mix in 1 tb. flour. Then you mix in milk, maybe 1/2 cup, on low until it's thick, then mix in cheddar cheese until smooth. Sometimes you have to add milk. Occasionally it's still a bit lumpy, so I blend it in the blender and it gets really smooth. Then you mix with pasta. Mix the pasta up to make it fun - sometimes use shells, sometimes use rotini, sometimes elbow mac or penne.
As some of the other moms have said, processed cheese is a no-no. And wheat pasta isn't the healthiest option, either. An alternative: Try making your own using organic brown rice pasta (readily available at Trader Joes and health stores), which is gluten-free, AND grated RAW milk cheese from organic milk (also readily available). Most commercial cheese are not raw, with the result that the very enzymes we need to digest the cheeses get destroyed when the milk is pasteurized. End result: the body thinks it 's a toxin, and thus the cycle of things like allergies, mucus, and arterial plaque can begin...
If you melt a tsp of butter in a pot, then add some flour, a little milk, and then shredded cheddar cheese, it makes a great cheese sauce for macaroni or for broccoli. That is a little better than the powdered cheese, I believe.
Also, one thing I have done to make the boxed macaroni and cheese a little healthier is to add some sweet potato/carrot mix. I boil a couple of pieces of sweet potato and a few pieces of carrot in water, and then put them in the blender with a little bit of the boiled water. Then I spoon about three or four tablespoons of it into the macaroni and cheese and it actually makes it taste a lot better and adds some nutrition.
Boxed mac and cheese is not horrible for your child. I add a little more mild cheddar to mine. My daughter loves pasta and this is just another way to get it. As long as you are serving it with veggies/fruits and a protein, it will be fine.
I make my own because I like the taste much better and I feel like I can control the salt better and limit preservatives. I use chedder and sometime swiss. I shread the cheese and melt it into a hot milk and flour roux and season. I use a little cayanne, like 1/4 teaspoon, but my mom's recipe uses dried mutard and nutmeg I ttink. It is really easy once you find a recipe you like. I also usually bake it with a little cheese and breadcrumbs and botter on top to giv eit that nice cripsy top.
We have it (Kraft Mac n Cheese) for supper once every few weeks. I loved it when I was a kid and my husband and son like it, too. I never heard before that it was bad for you, but once every few weeks isn't going to hurt anyone.
Do I think all processed mac n cheese is horrible for a child? YES. do I feed this to my daughter? YES. My 7yo is a kid of varied, but specific tastes. Yes, she is the queen of the picky eaters, and some of the few things she eats are very nutritious. She loves broccoli, will eat it plain or with a little (low sodium) soy sauce/tamari.
I buy her the Back to Nature Crazy Bugs mac and cheese. She won't eat homemade, she won't eat half of the other processed ones either. For awhile I could get her the Harvest Wheat one, which has some whole wheat in the pasta, but is not 100% WW, but that's off her list now too.
Yes, we make this because it is quick and we are time-challenged, and because my husband and I tend to eat spicy foods that even when "tamed-down" were too hot for her. I just try to counteract the "evil processed food" with a big steaming bowl of broccoli and maybe some tomatoes or other fruits/veggies.
As far as making homemade, yes, I think it is slightly better than the processed ones, but it's still not a lean protein, and has very little nutritional value. No matter how you make it, it is mostly carb, fat, and salt (even "low fat" cheeses are ~40% fat). If he will eat it mixed with veggies, by all means go for it! Otherwise, try to make it a special meal he has once in awhile, or a lunch meal, not a dinner one. Good luck!
For me the biggest difference and problem with the boxed mac & cheese is the salt content. A lot of people are talking about the fat (which is expected with anything made with cheese including homemade), but high sodium intake has been linked to all sorts of heart problems and obesity. A box of max & cheese has 700 mg of sodium in it, that's almost 40% of your daily value as an adult, even more for a child.
Homemade mac & cheese is super easy and a lot healthier.
2 tbs butter (unsalted)
2 tbs flour
Mix until smooth
Add two cups of milk (low fat or skim)
Stir until thick
Add in cheese (I use half a bar of cheddar cheese, grated -- use real cheese, it makes the difference)
Pour over half a box of cooked elbows
Pop in the oven at 350 for 20 mins.
My sons are teens.
If I could go back to when they were one - the first mistake I would NOT REPEAT is the introduction of highly processed food! Once they get a taste for that stuff it is really hard to get them to eat whole foods.
Get a book and read about MSG, hydrolyzed protein, etc., and their possible effects on developing brains. Any ingredients that are tough to pronounce - be sure to research what they actually are before lettting your child develop a love for them.
This is JMO from personal experience. I have seen my sons' overall health dramatically improve since we changed the way we eat as a family. Had I not seen it for myself I would have never believed it. It was a long and difficult road (due to years of bad habits) but very worth it. My point to you is I wish we hadn't developed the habits in the first place.
Don't know my 3 kids don't like mac n cheese that is boxed or chef boyarde..They will eat it when dad makes it with noodles and chesse a lil Velvetta then cheddar cheese with milk8
My kids eat it on occasion and they are perfectly healthy. My daughter asked to try the whole grain version and she liked it, too. Just pair it up with some vegies and fruit and a big glass of water. Your son will be fine!
All of the nutrients are bleached out of the pasta (basically anything that says 'fortified' is) and the cheese powder is filled with lots of sodium and preservatives.. so it's definitley not good for you!
But, we eat pretty healthy around here, and every now and then I am exhausted and need a quick snack, we do eat some Kraft Mac and Cheese (my fault, I like the spirals).
Home made will definitely be healthier, you can use whole wheat pasta, and you can even add in veggies like cauliflower or squash.
The bright cheesy orange color of Kraft Mac n Cheese is courtesy of dye yellow#5 and yellow#6. Synthetic food colorings are manufactured from petroleum. The organic brand is much better because it uses natural coroing annatto. -Nutrition Action
Cook your pasta, drain and add some milk, butter and shredded cheese from a bag without all the dyes. Good luck!
it may not be a question of mac and cheese being so bad in and of itself, but its lack of nutrition is robbing you of an opportunity to give your son real nutrients. I thing dried forms of fat (dried cheese), are partially hydrogenated and that is bad. Processed cheese is not that great, but I don't think it is partially hydrogenated, so the kind you melt yourself is better. If its something you really want to turn to for food, i'd just make sure he also ate his veggies in abundance. I second Angela S's response. I have personally made a consorted effort not to introduce this food, as well chicken nuggets. But we are not perfect over here. (we personally need to work on the desserts and sugar)
How about asking, is it really that GOOD for you? Box mac & cheese, like other packaged food is a replacement "food," in the sense that instead of eating something nutrient dense he's filling up on something nutrient-poor (even if it says "fortified," doesn't matter). my mom used to make it w/real cheddar and butter (both of which are good for you if you buy quality stuff). maybe you can look online for a recipe.
Maybe offer it as a super duper treat that he can have once a week. You can always chop some tomatoes and/or herbs and throw them in to get him used to different textures.
I'm not sure how bad boxed mac and cheese is, but I know it's pretty processed. I just wanted to let you know that it's super easy to make homemade. I use regular cheddar cheese and it melts easily. I also throw little pieces of broccoli in with the noodles while they're boiling - it adds a veggie and my daughter loves it. When I met my husband, he'd never had homemade mac and cheese so I made it for him, he couldn't believe how good it was! Here's a recipe.
I have the boxed Kraft also. I also add some shredded cheddar to it since my kids love it really cheesy. Yes, processed foo dis bad but if you only have it once in while, you will be fine. you will not be condemning your son to a horrible life. I also make my kids eat a side of veggies. Your question reminded me of a visit to the grocery store a few weeks ago. I had mostly fruits and veggies, a few meats, rice, bread and a few boxes of pasta that I just throw together in a pot and the cheesy sauce is included. One was shells and cheese and I think the other might have been mac and cheese. This woman standing behind me very loudly pointed out to her daughter that some people eat the worst foods and scar (her word) their children with junk, that processed foods are the worst etc. Never mind she had potato chips in with her fruits and veggies. Most foods we eat are fruits and fresh veggies so yes I will make a box of throw it in the post pasta and sauce when I get home dead tired.
hi, when making home made mac n cheese i use block sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese i also use cheddar cheese soup. this will take the place of processed cheese( velveta)
your gonna get a long list of reasons why its not good, and it really isnt the best, but It also isnt the worst possible thing you can do. I know from experience that if you hide all the junk food all the time, it becomes a rebellion of sorts. Most parents feed their kids this kind of stuff ALL THE TIME. I see it with my own eyes. Your son will come across junk food.
My stance on it is the occasional splurge on this kind of food is not that bad. I would though if i were you try to come up with a better version, whole wheat pasta and real cheese
gruyere melts up nicely and tastes fantastic, i wouldnt be suprised if he preferred it
The organic stuff isn't great for you, but the Kraft is simply awful. Keep buying the organic brand and make sure it doesn't become a staple in his diet.
As far as making your own, I would imagine the Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker, or America's Test Kitchen cookbooks probably have some great mac n cheese recipes that you could try out. Don't forget to use organic dairy products when making it. If you don't have access to any of these cookbooks, they are more than likely available at your local library.
The butter and carbs of regular mac and cheese are my problem. I always buy the half whole grain variety, make it with half the butter it calls for, and mix in some peas or broccoli.
I have three kids. A 5.5 yr, almost 4 yr and an 18mos old. My older two are quite picky. Getting them to eat healthy is a constant struggle. I made some mistakes with the older two that I haven't made with the third. Basically I don't give up. I keep offering the baby healthy things. I gave her "adult" food way earlier. i.e. instead of giving her plain whole wheat noodles, I gave them to her with homemade pasta sauce. It is true that you are setting the stage for years to come. So my suggestion with the mac & cheese is to make sure you are using whole wheat or multi grain noodles. Annie's Organics has a great multi grain mac & cheese. As for the sauce, it's true that it is loaded with sodium. even the organic ones. I just made a sauce that my 5 yr old and baby love! I made a basic white sauce (melted butter, equal flour & add milk and cheese) then I added some veggies I had cooked (steamed) and pureed. THEN I added about half the pack of the powdered cheese that comes in the Annie's box. She actually LIKED it! It had pureed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots & zucchini. My oldest will also eat basic pasta sauce if I mix it with a little white sauce. You didn't mention whether or not your son is willing to eat other foods as well. Is he picky? If not avoid the processed foods, and get as many different flavors and textures in to him while he is little. You will be so glad you did later!
definitely stick to the organic versions if you go boxed. But making your own really is easy and you can get organic cheese, butter and flour. One post gave you the recipe, you just add whatever cheese you want, even Parmesan for alfredo sauce, yum! Any cheese will work, use a block cheese and shred it yourself. A colby/monteray jack is good, or just mild chedder. Whatever you like!
most recipies I have seen for mac in cheese are baked an therefore use cheddar cheese or similar. At the restaurant I work in we use a basic Alfredo sauce and melt in cheddar to get that creamy "like the box" consistancy that is not baked. It is SOooooooo good. Although high in fat an calories as it is bacically butter, cream, some garlic, parmesean cheese and cheddar cheese. Just read the ingredient list on the box to see if you want to be eating (or serving) that stuff. Although we have eaten it before and probably will again.
I buy the noodles separately and the cheese separately.
For the cheese I use the nacho cheese sauce. It melts easily and mixes well. It also has a nice flavor. I use the 15 oz can, not the 6 lb can. I get the 15 oz can from the 99 cent store or the grocery store. Its also much cheaper when you make up more than one box. If you have left overs put them in a sandwich baggie and put it in the freezer.
My grandkids love it.
Good luck to you and yours.
My kids, 1.5 and 4.5 love it. I try to at least sneak in some broccoli and get the organic/healthier brands. But my 1 year old could live on cheese and pasta in various forms if I let her (okay, some days she does with some fruits and veggies thrown in). A lot of kids love it but alternate it with other stuff.
It is actually pretty bad for you. My son loves mac and cheese too. So he gets it - maybe twice a month. I vary what he gets, organic, gluten free, and yes he gets the crappy kraft at times (restaurant, similar). Other than this, he eats very healthy and he knows that this stuff isn't good for him AND when I do make it, he gets a small portion serving, the rest of his plate has veggies and a lean meat. He knows to eat the grow food before he gets anymore "fun" food. He's 5, so this is pretty easy now. For you, with your little guy only being 1, you can create a monster or not. You are taming his taste buds. If he gets mac and cheese (especially an unhealthier version) he will crave it and he WON'T want the healthier version. So start off right and just give him what is better for him now. However, if that isn't an option and you want to feed him Kraft/homemade/organic - whatever, then just make sure he gets some good stuff on his plate as well.
If you are buying organic ones it doesn't sound bad to me, I give them to my daughter. Also, It is pretty easy to make home made cheese sauce, just google it.
Real cheese beats powdered cheese anytime. The sauce is often made from melted cheese and milk. It is just time consuming. My daughter is on a mac & cheese diet still at 4YO.
I do not think it is the best thing, but any thing in moderation is ok. I grew up on it, and I am fine :). I make the blue box for my kids every now and than, but they prefer it when I melt velveta with a small amount of milk and make it that way. Sometimes I add peas and hotdogs, they love that.
Its funny that me and my daughter are eating this right when I opened this website and saw your question.
I grew up eating mac n cheese regularly and I was never overweight as a child, or even in my twenties until I had kids, now I have a few extra pounds on me. I do still eat it and feed it to my picky 2 year old. I don't think its the healthiest thing to eat but I don't think its the worst either. In general anything out of a box or can will have chemicals and extra sodium, fat etc. But if you're in a bind for dinner and can't cook a meal, I say go for it.
Hi there! We all want the best for our kids, right? It's nice you're so concerned. My opinion is that Kraft anything is bad because of all the processed items in their food. I do buy the organic boxed ones sometimes too, but again it's not really a "food." Making your own is probably that best bet. Not all cheese is processed and you can buy whole wheat organic pasta! My 18 month old daughter loves almond cheese. We make her pasta and melt the almond cheese on top and she loves it! We usually add cherry tomatoes, broccolli, carrots and/or tofu too. :) Good luck!
I definitely think you would be better off making your own mac and cheese. The cheese that is in those boxed packages are horribly laden with artificial flavors/colors and preservatives.
Also, I would suggest adding some veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower to add even more nutrition to it. It's fairly easy to make and you can make a large batch so you can just reheat it as you need it.
If you look at the ingredients label on the Kraft mac & cheese, you'll probably notice that you won't be able to recognize (let alone pronounce) a number of the ingredients that are listed. One of the things that I am concerned about with the Kraft mac & cheese is artificial colors. Those are known to exacerbate ADHD symptoms and I have a son who has attentional issues. He does a lot better when I feed him mac & cheese from the health food aisle at our store or the trader joe's brand.
I'm glad that you are watching out to make sure that your son is eating healthfully. Keep up the good work mama!