This Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food—it’s warm, rich, creamy and cheesy. Did we mention it’ll get your family eating their veggies?

This recipe is made with carrot puree, cheese and pasta. The carrot puree gives the sauce the most beautiful golden color and brings a rich earthiness to the dish. The creamy, melted cheddar cheese adds a smooth, buttery flavor that will leave you wanting more.

The result: The best mac and cheese you and your family have ever tasted! They’ll devour it without ever suspecting that a nutrient-dense veggie has been added.

Real-food ingredients

Boxed mac and cheese can be loaded with unnecessary ingredients and calories. When you make it yourself, you can control what you put into it. Hello, minimal, FfL-friendly, real-food ingredients (not to mention hidden veggies!).

Prep ahead

This dish can be prepared 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, just increase your baking time by 10–15 minutes.

Why carrot puree?

Pureeing food is a simple, incognito way to add just about any fruit, veggie or protein into a meal so that your picky eaters won’t complain. Carrot puree is mild and slightly sweet, making it the perfect addition to this savory dish. We’ve also used pureed butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin in place of pureed carrots (1:1 ratio).

How to make your carrot puree

Pureeing is MUCH more simple than it sounds. Basically, all you need is a steamer, pot or microwave to soften your veggies, a food processor or high-speed blender and a little water. We often make a big batch, pre-portion it in mason jars and store it in our freezer—that way we can use it as necessary and simply replenish it whenever necessary.

If you don’t have access to an immersion blender, food processor or high-speed blender, then you can mash your carrots, but blending them helps create a creamy texture and disguises them the best.

Steaming on stovetop:

  1. Buy a 12-ounce bag of baby carrots.
  2. Put 1–2 inches of water in the bottom of a medium pot.
  3. Add steamer basket or collapsible colander (without the carrots), cover and bring water to a boil.
  4. Add carrots, cover the pot with a lid and steam until they’re tender when pierced with a fork, about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Let the carrots cool, then put into the food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Add a few tablespoons of liquid (water or cooking juices from boiling/steaming) to help the pureeing process, if necessary.

Boiling on stovetop: (if you don’t have a steamer basket)

  1. Buy a 12-ounce bag of baby carrots.
  2. Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add your baby carrots and reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Loosely cover the pot with a lid and simmer until they’re tender when pierced with a fork, about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Let the carrots cool, then put into the food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Add a few tablespoons of liquid (water or cooking juices from boiling/steaming) to help the pureeing process, if necessary.

No time to puree? No problem!

If you don’t have time to puree your own, check the baby food aisle for jarred carrot puree. If you’re substituting carrot puree with butternut squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin puree, you can also find them canned. These are perfectly fine to use, just remember, minimal, recognizable ingredients (such as the actual vegetable, its natural juices, water and minimal salt).

Tips when making Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese:

  • You can use any pasta, including traditional macaroni shells or gluten-free pasta. We prefer bigger, heartier pasta like penne or rigatoni. When choosing your pasta, look for 100% whole grain pasta or one made with simple, real-food ingredients.
  • This dish can be prepared 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, just increase your baking time by 10–15 minutes.
  • Leftover macaroni and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months and thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in the stove or in the microwave.

Add meat for an amazing meal

If making it a meal, add cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken or cooked ground beef for protein. Balance out your plate by pairing it with a big, fruit-filled side salad (or possibly a bowl of fruit for your picky eater).

Recipes that pair well with this Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese:

Some ways to “reinvent” your leftover Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese:

  • In a roasted portobello mushroom cap. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cleaned mushroom caps, stem/gill side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, until caps are soft. Remove from the oven and carefully flip the mushroom caps over. If water accumulates on the baking sheet, drain the liquid. Evenly spoon leftover mac and cheese in the cup of each cap. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender, the mixture is warm and the cheese is bubbling.

If you made this Hidden Veggie Macaroni and Cheese, please leave a comment below sharing what you served it with and how your picky eater responded to it. We love hearing from you and your ideas inspire us all!

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Macaroni and Cheese

Hidden Veggie Macaroni and Cheese


  • Course: ,
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Macaroni and cheese with hidden vegetables makes this dish a healthier choice that’s picky-eater approved! The secret vegetables add nutrition for a healthy recipe that you can feel good about serving.


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and macaroni. Bring the water back to a boil and cook the macaroni until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Pour drained macaroni into a large bowl. Add shredded cheese, butter, eggs, carrot puree, salt and pepper. Mix until blended. Transfer the mixture into a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish. Pour enough milk into the dish to cover half of the macaroni.
  4. Bake covered until the dish bubbles around the edges and the top is slightly golden brown (approximately 45 minutes).

Notes

Always check for FfL-friendly ingredients.

We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.

Substitutions:

Gluten-free: Use 100% gluten-free whole grain pasta.

Unsweetened almond milk can be used in place of milk.

Keywords: Macaroni and Cheese, Hidden Veggie

Category :Recipes
Method :Make Ahead Meal, One Pot
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