There has been a whole lot in the news lately about Kraft Foods and their boxed macaroni and cheese. And with good reason. Ever wonder what gives the product its golden, “cheesy” color? Artificial dyes my friend. I mean, come on. The “cheese” is a yellow powder that you mix with milk and butter.
But here’s the kicker. Several other countries have banned these artificial dyes and refused to sell any products containing them. So did that mean that these European boys and girls wouldn’t be able to enjoy Kraft’s flagship product? Not at all. Kraft came back with “new and improved” versions sans the artificial dyes.
Now one would think that if the folks at Kraft could remove artificial dyes from the European formulation, they would gladly do the same for our American families, right? Not. So. Much.
In fact, go on over to 100 Days of Real Food and read about the petition that is circulating requesting that Kraft extend the same courtesy to its American consumers. But truth be told, the homemade version is so much better. And this particular version, from my favorite kid-friendly cookbook, Deceptively Delicious (find it here) is not only free from artificial dyes, but it contains the yummy goodness of butternut squash. Your kids will just think it’s all kinds of yummy!
To puree the butternut squash, cut off the stem and then cut the squash down the middle, vertically. Place on a cookie sheet, face down, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes in a 400 degree oven. After it cools enough to handle, scoop out the contents and place in a food processor. Freeze until ready to use.
For the Macaroni and Cheese:
1 ½ cups elbow macaroni (you can use whole wheat pasta if you prefer)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
½ cup non-fat milk
½ cup butternut squash puree
1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (reduced fat)
4 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat)
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
½ tsp pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain.
2. While macaroni is cooking, coat a saucepan with cooking spray. Put heat on medium and add oil, then flour and cook, stirring constantly. Mixture will look like a thick paste, but do not allow it to brown. It will take just 1-2 minutes.
3. Add milk and cook until mixture starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes. Add butternut squash puree, Cheddar, cream cheese and seasonings. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add to macaroni and serve warm.
Yummy comfort food that is so much better than any old Kraft product anyway!