February 8, 2013

Easier, Better Macaroni and Cheese

Whole-wheat/whole cheese macaroni, crispy oven-baked kale chips, nectarine slices, pea pods
Boxed macaroni and cheese was THE food of my childhood. I probably asked my poor mom to make it for lunch every day between 1987-1997. When the noodles were on the stove, it was my (very, very important) job to tear open the packet of cheese and dump it into the pot, tapping it meticulously so as not to waste a single puff of precious powder. Later, as a crafty (Krafty?) teenager, I started making it myself, with two packets of cheese for every box of pasta. Imagine it: a day-glow-orange salt-bomb in a pot.

Fast-forward to a new era, in which I am still unequivocally in love with macaroni and cheese. There is nothing like an over-large heap of gooey yellow noodles paired with a big stack of crudites around noontime of, oh, any day.

Still, I gave up macaroni and cheese for a long time. That powdered cheese isn't actually, you know, cheese. And those soft white noodles are stripped of the germ and the bran that make pasta not just nutritious, but hearty and flavorful.

I dreamed up this technique when I was pregnant, and have never since bought boxed mac. It's delicious, creamy, fast, real macaroni and cheese, perfect for whole-food kids and parents. It even makes that little squelchy kissy sound when you stir it in the pot.

As soon as Darwin outgrows his toddleresque drive to dump food onto the floor (can that be today? Please?), he'll be the one in charge of adding the cheese to the pot.

Whole-Food Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
serves 2

1 cup dry 100% whole wheat pasta (macaroni, fusilli, or other short, chunky shape)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded from the block*
splash of milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta until tender, drain, and return to pot. Add milk and cheese and stir well until cheese has completely melted and combined. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

*I've used many kinds of cheeses, and almost all work well, even spicy pepper jack. If you don't mind fussing a little, mixing a sharper cheese (like sharp cheddar) with a meltier cheese (like mild cheddar or jack) is a good choice for balancing tangy/creamy notes.


  1. I make my mac & cheese this way too. It is just as easy as the boxed kind but tastes so much better!

    1. I agree! I even discovered it works with yogurt or cottage cheese in place of milk. Very tasty.