How to Cook a Gourmet Meal for Kids


Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese
Slight variations in the classic macaroni and cheese recipe can turn it into a gourmet meal kids will love.
Slight variations in the classic macaroni and cheese recipe can turn it into a gourmet meal kids will love.
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Macaroni and cheese can be transformed into a more nutritious and gourmet meal with a few clever variations. A 1-cup serving of from-the-box macaroni and cheese contains about 260 calories, a bit of the grain group and the dairy group, but not much more nutritional value [sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kraft].

An obvious way to go a bit more gourmet is to make your own macaroni and cheese from scratch. This allows you to add a variety of different ingredients. Switch up the cheeses, or do a blend of multiple cheeses, such as Colby, Parmesan or Swiss, instead of just cheddar [source: Cooking Light]. If you want to go even further, try Mascarpone, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyere [source: Artisanal Premium Cheese]. For creamy sauces, some recipes incorporate whole cream or sour cream instead of milk. Spicier varieties can include jalape├▒os or Dijon mustard.

"Macaroni and cheese is sacred," says Berkoff. "However, depending on how adventuresome your kids are, you could add diced Ni├žoise olives -- tell them they're pieces of 'dirt' -- 7-year-aged cheddar or a Greek-style yogurt in the sauce."

For those that might be a bit less adventurous, making a small tweak to their already familiar box brand might be the best route. Try switching out the plain old tube noodles for a version that uses whole-grain noodles or a different shape of noodle. Another idea is mixing frozen butternut squash into the sauce; it's the same color as the cheese sauce and will add some nutrition and variety to the dish. For those that like a bit of meat, add some small pieces of ham or bacon to the mix.

Next, we'll look at another kid favorite popular at fast-food restaurants -- the cheeseburger.

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