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Spice Up Your Macaroni and Cheese

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My children's favorite meal is macaroni and cheese. The cheesier it is the the more he enjoys it. I love it myself, but the cheesier it is, the more fattening it becomes, too. Here are a few ideas to make that family classic a little better for the kids.

photo credit: thirtyhandmadedays.com
Add variety to the cheese. Macaroni and cheese is nothing unless it is dripping cheese from both ends of the noodle. But, the cheese your mother chose doesn't have to be the same cheese that you use.

If you are a person that bakes your macaroni and cheese like a casserole, you can substitute fat-free sharp cheddar for the full fat version and use skim milk to make it creamy.

How about making that side dish the main meal? Macaroni and cheese can become the entire meal if you add some protein. Turn your side dish into a casserole dinner with lean ground beef. This transforms your dish into cheesy beef and macaroni. The beef will help to fill your kids up faster and will give them the protein that their body needs. Add a teaspoon of chili powder to give it a southwestern flavor. For a weekend lunch, add chunks of ham to their macaroni and cheese for a quick meal. The meat breaks up the monotony of just having the same dish all of the time. Chunks of boneless chicken breasts will also work as well as the ham if your child prefers chicken. Hotdogs also work with macaroni and cheese but because of the nitrites they contain, don't use them as often as you use the ham and chicken.

photo credit: browneyedbaker.com
Substitute your pasta. There are so many more healthy alternatives to the normal macaroni pasta noodle. Now, grocery stores provide a whole wheat or multigrain pasta that is derived from wheat flour instead of white. The pasta is brown in color but when you add the cheese, no one will know the difference.

Add some color to their macaroni and cheese. Chop a tomato and stir it into the macaroni and cheese prior to serving it. The red makes a bold statement in the sea of yellow. Tomatoes contain antioxidants which are great for your body. If your children prefer hot foods, add a few crushed red peppers or diced red and green peppers to their macaroni and cheese for a bolder flavor. If you don't have any peppers or tomatoes on hand, use a cup of salsa in the macaroni and cheese in a pinch.

What about breakfast? Your child would jump at the chance to be served macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Add a few pieces of turkey bacon or reduced fat bacon to their plate. Crumble the bacon on top of the macaroni and cheese and serve. If bacon is not your child's favorite, add sausage crumbles. It's unconventional, but it'll taste good.

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