Thank you Annie’s Homegrown for partnering with me on this post. All opinions are my own.
As kiddos are heading back to school we parents want to make sure their lunches are something that is good but good for them too. It’s what is going to fuel them for the rest of the day and help them grow. Sometimes their favorites are not always healthy but we can find ways to make that lunch a little healthier or pair with with some healthy things and reduce of the portion size of the not so good things. Kids love Bento boxes. The fun little compartmentalized lunches can make eating a healthy lunch something kids want to do. RockTheLunchbox.com is a treasure trove of healthy lunch and Bento Box lunch ideas and tips.
My son Ethan’s favorite lunch is Macaroni and Cheese. I will be the first to admit it’s not the healthiest of lunches but as is typical with kids on the Autism spectrum I can count on two hands the number of foods he will eat so for some things I have to pick my battles. What I can do for him though is get him involved in cooking to try new things and also to try to make his favorites a little healthier. I am not claiming this Macaroni and Cheese is healthy but by using whole grains and substituting half the cheese for lower fat cheese, this version is definitely healthy-er than regular Macaroni and Cheese.
- 8 oz whole grain elbow macaroni
- 1 can 12 oz evaporated milk
- 1½ cup whole milk
- ½ stick butter melted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 Block Tillamook Smoked Cheddar
- 1 Block Low Fat Lucerne Sharp Cheddar
- Dash of paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the macaroni according to package instructions.
- Grate the two blocks of cheese and blend together.
- Coat your 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray or line with a liner.
- Add the macaroni, evaporated milk, whole milk, butter, eggs, ½ of the grated cheese, and salt and pepper to the slow cooker.
- Stir to blend.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the mixture and give a dash of paprika on top.
- Cover and cook.
Ethan and I had a great time making his favorite dish and he got to learn what goes into mac and cheese. It was super simple to make and the recipe makes plenty for leftovers or would be a great holiday side. We made a few healthy substitutions like the whole grain pasta and using low fat cheese for half of what went into the recipe. Comfort food like mac and cheese are tough dishes to make completely healthy because when you use all low fat cheese it doesn’t melt as well and the dish can come out clumpy or oily. There is more salt in low fat product. Replacing the milk with 2% will make the sauce thin. The best option for us is to make it as healthy as possible while still tasting delicious and limit the portion size while pairing it with other healthy foods.
I made his Bento Lunch box just like the one I am giving away with Annie’s home grown and added some grapes, Stonyfield Organic yogurt, Annie’s.com farm crackers in fun shapes, our Mac N Cheese that we made and a whole wheat bagel bites sandwich with Organic Valley cheese (which is excellent by the way). There is also a temperature keeping dish included in the giveaway to keep things like the mac and cheese fresh.
Now you can win this fun prize pack courtesy of Annie’s.com and send your kiddos off with lunches that rock.
To Enter the Giveaway:
Simply go join Team Annie’s and come back to this post and leave a comment with the first initial and last name you joined under.
This recipe was inspired by Trisha Yearwood’s slow cooker Mac & Cheese Recipe.
Giveaway Terms: Must be 18 years old to win. Winner must live in the U.S. Winner will be announced within 48 hours of giveaway ending on September 6, 2014. Winner must claim prize within 48 hours of being notified or winner will be disqualified and another winner chosen. Winning comment number will be chosen via Random Number Generator.