These bites are perfect for an on-the-go snack or packing lunches—you can't go wrong either way.
1. Stir 1 egg into prepared mac ’n’ cheese
2. Spoon into 20 greased mini muffin cups
3. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and pepper (optional)
4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 400°F.
This fontina-cheese mac contains about 70 calories and 13 grams of fat fewer than typical baked versions.
"Kids will barely notice the carrots and onion in this version," says Curtis Stone, dad of Hudson, 2, and host of Top Chef Masters.
For extra flavor and nutrients, add artichoke hearts and garlic to mac 'n' cheese, suggests Victoria Shanta Retelny, R.D., author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods and mom of two.
How will you persuade your child to eat spinach? Put it in their mac 'n' cheese, suggests Parents contributing editor Catherine McCord, a mom of two and author of Weelicious Lunches.
This vitamin A-rich veggie will blend in with the Cheddar cheese, says Sharon Palmer, R.D., author of the forthcoming book Plant-Powered for Life.
Give mac 'n' cheese a protein boost with edamame, says celebrity chef Cat Cora, a mom of four kids under age 10.
Chef Steve Chiappetti, of J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar, in Chicago says his kids like mac 'n' cheese with shredded chicken and barbeque sauce.
Yogurt adds creaminess to this speedy, lighter version.
Use Gruyére cheese and caramelized onions. It's a Parents test-kitchen fave!
Mix in cannellini beans, tomato puree, and rosemary, says Jeffrey Saad, author of Jeffrey Saad's Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders.
Walt Disney World chef Gary Jones makes a version with ground chicken and cumin.
Can't decide between pizza or mac 'n' cheese? Blend together the flavors with this recipe from Sarita Ekya, co-owner of S'MAC, a mac 'n' cheese hot spot in New York City.
Cat Cora stirs in a cup of chopped cooked shrimp and a pinch of Cajun seasoning just before serving.
Go more grown-up by adding baby spinach, oregano, and a little chili.
If you don't have the time or ingredients to make your own macaroni and cheese, opt for a healthier boxed version. My kids like Annie's Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar, and I'm a fan because it has less fat and sodium than many other brands and no artificial ingredients. Use the 10.5-oz. Family Size box to serve four, and prepare it according to the directions.
Heat frozen mini meatballs and stir them into the dish, says Carla Christian, Parents test-kitchen project manager.
Lori King, a chef at The Pantry, in Norwich, Connecticut, suggests mixing in a can of drained crabmeat during cooking.
Top the mac 'n' cheese with sautéed sliced bell peppers and onions, advises Jackie Newgent, R.D., author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook.
Retelny recommends adding ground flax seed and farmer's cheese to impart an extra-creamy texture and a mild nutty flavor.
Get the flavor of buffalo wings without all the fat of frying!
Add chicken sausage to the dish, suggests James O'Donnell, executive chef at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in Chicago.