This vegetable macaroni cheese recipe contains three hidden veg – sweet potato, butternut squash and cauliflower. It is perfect for picky eaters. In my opinion it tastes even better than regular mac ‘n’ cheese.
This hidden vegetable macaroni cheese looks exactly the same as standard macaroni cheese. However, it has three healthy and delicious portions of vegetables added – cauliflower, sweet potato and butternut squash.
It’s one of my favourite vegetarian recipes for kids. It’s equally perfect for anyone who wants to find an easy way to get more vegetables into their diet and for picky eaters who try to avoid vegetables!
Hiding vegetables in food for kids and toddlers
These days I’m all for transparency in feeding my kids and I try to avoid hiding too many vegetables in their meals.
However on occasion I just want to make sure that my children – in particular my eldest – do eat some vegetables! That’s when dishes like this come in so handy.
My hidden vegetable mac and cheese looks exactly like ordinary macaroni cheese. It’s a great hidden vegetable recipe for toddlers and older kids alike.
What vegetables are in this macaroni cheese?
I’ve been blending butternut squash into cheese sauce for ages. On this occasion I decided to see if I could create a really sneaky mac and cheese by including more vegetables.
In this recipe for hidden veggie macaroni cheese I’ve added cauliflower, sweet potato and butternut squash. It all got eaten, and no-one noticed the difference.
This doesn’t mean that my son is any more likely to pick up a floret of cauliflower and tuck into it any time soon. But at least I know that when he’s eaten a plate of this he’s had some goodness – not just a heap of carbs and dairy.
Find out more about how much veg should be in your child’s diet.
If you’re struggling with picky eating you might enjoy my recent post over on the metro about how I learnt to relax about my child’s fussy eating.
More hidden veg recipes
- Butternut squash macaroni and cheese
- Butternut squash cheese straws
- Cauliflower macaroni cheese muffins
- Sweet potato flatbread
Pin hidden vegetable macaroni cheese for later
Here’s how to make hidden vegetable macaroni cheese
Make sure the vegetables are nice and soft so they blend well into the sauce
Hidden vegetable mac and cheese
- 1 medium sweet potato around 200g, peeled and diced
- 200 g chunk of butternut squash peeled and diced
- 200 g cauliflower broken into smallish florets
- 25 g butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml milk
- 100 g cheddar cheese
- 200 g macaroni or other pasta shape
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 50 g breadcrumbs
Place the sweet potato, butternut squash and cauliflower together in a steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes until soft.
Bring a large pan of boiling water to the boil, add 200g macaroni and cook for 10 minutes or so, until just soft. I don't usually salt the water when I'm cooking for the kids but feel free to if you want.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6. Melt 25g butter in a small saucepan. Stir through 1 tbsp flour and whisk in 500ml milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, for around five minutes. Don't worry about the sauce thickening too much as you want it to be on the runny side for macaroni cheese.
Remove from the heat and add 100g grated cheddar cheese. Stir until melted.
Add the cooked vegetables to the sauce and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired.
Add the cooked pasta and mix well. If you like you can serve it like this or if you prefer then transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over 50g breadcrumbs and grate a little more cheese over the top. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden.