Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “First Cooking Recollections.” I’m excited to share a little of my cooking background with you, especially now that I’m getting geared up to teach some basic cooking skills classes to my patients at work! I believe that kids are more likely to become interested and proficient in cooking healthy, delicious meals if they get started at a young age.

I’ve been cooking since I was four or five years old. Back then, my dad would pay me $5 to make him dinner. Dinner, in this case, was a couple of slices of Wonder bread topped with ketchup, shredded cheese, and pepperoni microwaved until hot and soggy for 60 seconds! I was so proud of myself.

When I was a little older, I learned to scramble eggs and cook quesadillas in a pan. When I was 12 or so, I started writing down my grandmother’s Polish recipes and learning some more sophisticated cooking techniques. She showed me how to tenderize chicken, chop vegetables without cutting my fingers off, and knead pierogi dough.

You’d think that by high school I must have been whipping up gourmet foods. In reality, I was too busy with school and IM-ing my friends to be bothered by cooking complex meals. I usually baked boxed cake mixes and enhanced cans of Spaghetti-O’s with cheese and tuna. To be honest, some of my favorite meals these days are the ones that take the least time and effort to prepare!

As a dietitian, I don’t feel great about eating a box of mac & cheese for dinner, but I can justify it if I add some protein and greens! My favorite combos lately have been sharp cheddar mac + broccoli + cherry tomatoes + chicken breast and the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

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Grown Up Mac & Cheese

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthier take on a childhood classic.

Ingredients

  • 1 box mac & cheese, such as Aunt Annie’s Aged Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons low fat milk
  • 1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
  • 4 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Prepare boxed macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Keep the macaroni with cheese sauce in the saucepan.
  2. Stir in the spinach, chicken, and marinara sauce.
  3. Heat and stir until all ingredients are hot and well combined.

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This week I’m teaching the kids some knife skills. We’re starting easy by cutting bananas, avocados, and zucchini using nylon chef’s knives. If you want to get your kids into cooking, here’s a great blog post with tips.  I love the idea of using a lettuce knife and Play Doh to start! This handbook from Cooking Matters gives some great insight for starting a hands on cooking program in your area! If you’re at a point where you’re still learning, Williams & Sonoma offers reasonably priced cooking classes for kids and adults. Recent topics covered were spiralizer recipes, Fall baking, barista basics, and Labor Day BBQ. Colby and I are taking a knife skills class these this weekend! I’ve heard is worth well over the $10 we’re paying to attend :)

The Recipe ReDux is the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians. The group is focused on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you. 

Check out the link below to see how some of my fellow RDs and healthy foodies got their start in the kitchen!

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3 thoughts on “Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese

  1. I love how your dad paid you to make him dinner :) This mac and cheese looks SO much better than what you can buy in the store! Love the addition of spinach!

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