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Baked {Spinach} Macaroni and Cheese

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Baked {Spinach} Mac and Cheese

I’m not an advocate of sneaking veggies or other healthy foods into my kids’ meals because I believe that it is important to openly have the conversation of healthy v. not-so-healthy foods with them.  By introducing them to different ingredients, setting an example with my food choices, etc. I at least hope that I am paving the way for their own healthy eating choices.  With that said, I don’t find any problem with fortifying our meals with healthy ingredients, even if the health food in question isn’t the star of the dish.  So just as I add oatmeal and other grains to our pancakes, or greens to our smoothies, I added spinach to our mac and cheese the last time I made my mom’s baked macaroni and cheese.

My four-year old, who is a mac and cheese connaisseur, watched me chop the spinach in the food processor (helping push the buttons, of course!) and then make the “cool” green sauce.  It’s like I openly “sneaked” spinach into our mac and cheese.  I say “sneak” because even though we all knew it was in there, we really couldn’t notice a spinach flavor.

Baked {Spinach} Mac and Cheese

The creamy noodles passed my son’s “sniff” test and if your kids are like mine and love dyeing foods whacky colors, then the natural green color is a little bonus, especially with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner.

Baked Spinach Macaroni and Cheese
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Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
This creamy baked {spinach} mac and cheese is another way to introduce healthy greens into your family's diet.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups macaroni, cooked and drained
  • Cheddar cheese or other cheese(s) of your choice, to taste
  • 2 cups tightly-packed spinach, finely chopped
Béchamel Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Place the spinach in a food processor and chop until very fine.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Stir in the flour and the chopped spinach, and then gradually add the milk, whisking it constantly until the mixture thickens. It is better to cook it slowly so that it does not burn or boil. Sometimes I make a mornay sauce, stirring grated cheese into the béchamel sauce to help thicken it. Once thickened, remove the sauce from the heat.
  4. Place half of the cooked macaroni in a casserole dish.
  5. Cover the noodles with slices of cheese (or grated cheese) and salt & pepper.
  6. Add the rest of the noodles.
  7. Pour the béchamel or mornay sauce over the noodles.
  8. Place slices of cheese (or grated cheese) on top. I usually stir everything together so that the cheese is evenly mixed throughout the noodles.
  9. Cover the mac and cheese with foil and put the casserole dish on a pan in case the cheese bubbles over while baking.
  10. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly and lightly browned.

 

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