I (Regina) still remember how excited I got at the sight of the blue box of macaroni and cheese—the one that came with a special white packet of orange powder that magically turned into a delicious sauce. My mom was a dietitian who cooked everything from scratch so I had to get my cravings satisfied at a friend’s house who was lucky enough to get a boxed meal for dinner.
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Yes, the culinary world has changed a lot along with everything else including the fact that the right mac and cheese can be a delicious and nutritious family meal. This easy homemade version offers the trifecta of Vitamin D (milk), protein (milk and cheese) and fiber (whole wheat pasta). Added benefit—this recipe can be customized with different vegetables, cheeses, pasta and milk.
- 1 head (1½ lbs) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound box whole wheat pasta
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss cauliflower, oil, ¼ tsp of the salt, ⅛ tsp of the garlic powder and the pepper in a large bowl. Spread onto a baking sheet; bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.
- Add pasta to boiling water. Cook 8 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, make sauce: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, remaining ¾ tsp salt, the smoked paprika and remaining ⅛ tsp garlic powder and bring to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar.
- Stir cauliflower and sauce into pasta. Spoon into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
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