Mac & Cheese (Mix Ins)

Updated on October 01, 2014
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
12 answers

For those of you who try sneaky veg, what do you mix into your mac & cheese? How much can you slip in before it starts changing the taste/ texture.

F. B.

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answers from Chicago on

My kids love to have white cheddar and shells with peas and corn. I put them in after it is cooked and the pasta heats it up pretty quickly.

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answers from Washington DC on


I've NEVER had to hide veggies for food.

What do I put/mix in with mac & cheese?

Diced ham and peas
Diced ham and corn

My kids love broccoli - especially with cheese - so I've put broccoli in it as well.

I know there are things that you can puree to add like squash. However, that MUST be cooked prior to puree'ing it and that would be a pain in the least in my book it would be...

Good luck!!

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answers from New York on

I never hid veggies. I taught my son and five neices and nephews who lived with me to fall in love with veggies and it started from a very early age. There was no hiding. No disguising veggies. They are now all adults with the younges being 20. They all eat veggies and actually seek them out.

They would sample things and eat what I eat. I'm told I make food lood delicious. So they were always curious about what was being served and they are also competitive with each other.

So for snacks after school there would be fruit and veggie platters. For dinner there would be different veggies served up in different ways. They have to try them, honestly try thme. My job as parent is to develop their pallet so they will like various tastes and textures and that starts young and continues until they are adults where the foundation has already been laid.

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answers from Norfolk on

When I have mac n cheese, I'm kind of a purist - I don't like anything else in it.
My husband like ketchup on mac n cheese (yuck).
Soups and stews are easier to sneak in extra veggies.
You can puree some and add it into the broth and no one knows they are there.
Squash soups are great (butternut, pumpkin, acorn) add in carrots to the puree and no one will notice.
My Mom like sweet potato pancakes.
There are lot's of ways to work veggie in - but not in MY mac n cheese!

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answers from Seattle on

I sneak veggies into almost everything - except Mac N Cheese....I have not mastered hiding anything in that dish that the kids don't turn their noses up at. Even steamed, pureed cauliflower is a no-go. After all that work, it's better just to serve veggies on the side and keep this one dish pure.

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answers from Dallas on

I am fortunate that my daughter is a good healthy eater so I never had to hide veggies.

We do love mac and cheese and our favorite add ins are: ham, broccoli, and peas



answers from Los Angeles on

Into Kraft Mac & Cheese, I put in 1/2 cup pureed butternut squash, or 1/2 cup pureed sweet potato. Both are orange, so the color is pretty consistent and 1/2 cup isn't too noticeable. My kids don't notice 1/2 cup changing the texture. The only draw back is that these are both high sugar/starch veggies, so they're nutritious, but it's not like adding spinach or a cruciferous veggie in.
It's a LOT easier to mix stuff into homemade mac & cheese, since the consistency is so variable. I mix 1c pureed cauliflower into white cheese sauce, (alfredo, or tetrazzini sauce), and it keeps the dish moist & creamy, and no one can tell the difference. If I'm doing a cheddar (orange) cheese sauce, the squash, or sweet potato is good.


answers from Boston on

Butternut squash is the classic add-in due to the color. Try to NOT use boxed M&C with the fake powdered cheese, but make your own with a plain white sauce & shredded cheddar (or other) cheese added in. If your family is used to the boxed stuff, start making half & half in the beginning, letting the kids get used to different shapes of pasta & so on, with a little real cheese and milk (if you use that). If you don't use whole grain pasta yet, start adding that in. Once the sauce is on, no one can tell. Broccoli florets are good (kids can "play dinosaur" and "eat trees"), so are peas because you can just add frozen peas out of the bag without cooking or defrosting (they just cook in the sauce). Pureed cauliflower is another easy add-in. You can use frozen squash and cauliflower if you don't want to start from scratch - just thaw and mash with a potato masher or put in the food processor (defrosted) with the cheese, milk, and any seasonings.

I agree that it's better if you don't have to hide veggies - but if you already have resistance among your kids, then you have to gradually sneak stuff back in sometimes.

Have you looked at any of Jessica Seinfeld's cookbooks? She's big on hidden veggies, and then you can get your kids involved in helping to cook/prepare, so that they will be more interested in the foods selected. Rachael Ray also has some good ideas on putting in things that kids will like. CHeck out her magazine and cookbooks at the library before you commit to purchasing.



answers from Denver on

I just made a one-ingredient (plus water) pasta sauce and posted it on my food blog. I can summarize it here:

I cut open an acorn squash, scooped out the seeds, and lay the halves, cut side down, on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, then roasted them at 350 for about an hour until they were very tender.

When the halves were cool enough to handle, I put all the squash flesh into a blender and blended it until it was really smooth, adding enough water to make it a sauce-like consistency (I used water from cooking the pasta).

The result was a golden, slightly sweet, beautiful sauce. The squash I used ended up being quite sweet so I did add some salt. But it tasted delicious.

For adding in vegetables to a traditional cheese sauce, roasted or steamed carrots that have been very well pureed might work, because carrots are slightly sweet, and the color would blend well with cheese.



answers from Louisville on

If you're feeling daring, try sun dried tomatoes! It's actually quite tasty!



answers from Oklahoma City on

I think even if you got a half cup in there it would be okay but more than that, right at first, might change the texture too much. Also, if it tastes abnormal to there being too much the kids might not eat it at all and then next time you have it they might not want it either.

Start small then add a little bit more. There's a whole set of cookbooks called the sneaky chef or something like that.



answers from Louisville on

Squash, pumpkin, and carrots are pretty easy mix-ins. I tend to add some real cheese as well, so the texture is already gooey, I can't say how much the taste would change though, as I don't really hide it. Lol.

I have seen fantastic "Mac and cheese" recipes on Pinterest that use spaghetti squash in place of the pasta... Maybe that's something your kid would like?

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