Baby Led Weaning Dinner Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Healthy mac and cheese? Could there be such a thing? The answer is YES! There is such a thing and I’m so excited to say,

“THE SECRET IS IN THE SAUCE”

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I’ve always liked the way that sounded and now I can say it! In all seriousness though, the secret really is in the sauce… If you have a picky eater you have probably already discovered that it is typically easier to get your fussy eater to eat “healthy” food in the form of sauce or dip. 

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Dips are a great way for toddlers to feel like they have more control over the process of “preparing” the food. Healthy dips give them some control over the flavour and how the food looks when it enters their mouth. Healthy dips also give them some control over the texture of food. 

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Now, back to the “secret sauce” in this healthy mac and cheese! Sauce is yet another super way to hide veggies (and other healthy stuff). Did I give it away? Have you discovered the secret? If not, stick with me, if so… stick with me just a little longer. 🙂

Just like healthy dips, kids love sauce, but who doesn’t? Unfortunately, sauce often gets a bad rap. Most sauces with a few minor adjustments can be just as yummy and flavourful but boast amazing amounts of nutrients from natural ingredients! The trick is to avoid too much fat (like butter and oil). My sauce secret is to replace a large portion of the butter or oil is with purees from fruits and/or veggies!

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It doesn’t always work 1-1. Sometimes you’ll need just a tiny bit of oil or butter in addition to a veggie. I generally recommend using rapeseed oil which is the lowest in saturated fats. Rapeseed oil is also a great source of omega 3,6, and 9! However, with mac and cheese, there is just a special flavour that fresh Irish butter provides. So I’ve used a small amount of butter in this healthy mac and cheese recipe.

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With this healthy mac and cheese recipe, the secret in the sauce is…steamed and blended cauliflower. You probably already figured this out by now. I cut the cauliflower into florets and add it to the steamer. After about 10 minutes it should be nice and tender but not mushy. Then you’ll add the milk and cauliflower to a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture becomes completely smooth.

Once you’ve created your cauliflower mixture, you’ll be ready to make it into a cheesy sauce. To start the sauce, you’ll need to make a roux (fancy word for paste). It’s super easy, just melt the small amount of butter in a saucepan on low heat then add the flour (2tbsp). You need to stir this constantly until the paste forms.

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Once the roux forms you are ready to add the cauliflower mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir in your cheese and spices. Viola! Cheesy cauliflower sauce! Serve over any kind of pasta shells you like. I like to top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs and Tumeric.

You can purchase all of the ingredients for this recipe in your local Dunnes Stores. I’d love to see how they go for you! PLEASE share your photos with me on Instagram and Facebook @babyledfeeding !!

Aileen

xoxo

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese is a super healthy hidden veggie recipe that kids love! This healthy mac and cheese uses traditional pasta shells and cheese, the secret is in the sauce! #macandcheese #cauliflower #healthyrecipes #babyledfeeding #babyledweaning #babyfood #pickyeaters #healthydinner

      • PREP TIME
      • 15 minutes
      • COOK TIME
      • 15 minutes
      • TOTAL TIME
      • 30 minutes
      • SERVES
      • 2 adults and 2 children x2 (Double Dinner)

What goes in...

  • 500g pasta shells
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 500ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 125g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Black pepper, to season
  • 1 large handful breadcrumbs
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • Serving
  • Sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves
  • Parmesan for older children and adults (leave out for babies)

How to make it...

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack. When it is al dente, drain and leave aside.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets then add to a steamer and steam for 10 minutes until it is tender.
  3. Add the cauliflower to a blender with 500ml milk then blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then whisk in the flour and stir well until it forms a roux (or paste). Whisk in the milk and blended cauliflower and stir well.
  5. Bring to a bubble, then stir in the cheese, nutmeg, turmeric, and season with black pepper.
  6. Divide the pasta into either one large baking dish or 2 small dishes. Equally, pour the sauce over the pasta and stir well, then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and a little extra turmeric.
  7. Serve the mac and cheese in bowls with a sprinkling of extra toasted breadcrumbs on top.

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