This Gluten Free Carrot Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese is slightly healthier than the alternative, using lowfat milk, Greek yogurt, and lots of veggies!
No exaggeration, I just sat in the car tonight for a solid 5 minutes blasting the heat, trying to thaw myself after an afternoon exploring the beaches on the west side of the island. While others are prepping themselves for the bitter cold of Fall and bracing for the beginning of snowstorms, I am seeking refuge from the biting 78 degrees of Hawaii. In my defense, I was wet and it was breezy.
Oh, and in addition to the previous defense, we had also just eaten frozen yogurt.
But let me tell you, every shiver was worth the experience we had today. I have been hearing about these “Mermaid Caves” from a few friends of mine where you are able to swim underneath some rocks right up against the open ocean. Sounds pretty amazing.
However, these caves are a good 45 minutes away and I am just not that overly zealous to trek my kids across the island in a wild hunt for rocks. That is until Braelyn’s bike got killed.
Yep, in her own words, Braelyn “killed” her bike. Yesterday we went out for a leisurely bike ride that ended nearly before it began. As Braelyn was coming to the end of the hill on our street, she braked and her tire split right open. Geez!!! Wouldn’t you think a 3 year old Disney character bike from Walmart that she rides every single day would last a little bit longer???! Hahaha! Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Anyway, since she rides her bike to and from school every morning, we couldn’t wait until Christmas to replace it. So once I spotted a $15 bike her size listed on Craigslist, I was all over it. Sure, $15 gets you a piece of junk, but as long as that junk can last until Christmas, we’re all good. Oh, and she LOVES her “new” junky bike.
The family selling the bike just so happened to live a hop, skip, and a jump away from these Mermaid Caves. An afternoon adventure was surely in order. So we packed up the kiddos, grabbed a few snacks, and threw our beach stuff in the car, and away we drove.
Best afternoon ever!!!
Not only are there these caves you can swim through, but you can actually jump out into the open ocean first before making your way through the caves. The jump is only about 10 feet, but that seems a lot higher to a 4 and 6 year old I’m sure. Braelyn hesitated for a while before jumping in, but man, Emry was all over it. Before Ben could even count to three, she threw herself into the water.
So proud of my daring little littles. And they were in heaven. Braelyn was spazzing with excitement and Emry even said that it was the best beach ever. I love watching my kids happy.
And you know what also makes kids happy…you know, besides living in paradise and exploring everyday???
MAC AND CHEEEEEEZE!!!
My girls LOVE noodles, pasta, “buh-sghetti”, lasagna or anything of that sort. Emry literally squeals for joy when I say I’m making some kind of pasta dish. So you can imagine her delight the night I made this Gluten Free Carrot Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese.
This is the perfect mac n’ cheese for kids and adults alike. It’s loaded with carrots, a veggie that most kids will eat without throwing a full on fit, yet has a sophisticated flavor profile with the extra seasonings, white wine, and a heaping handful of extra sharp cheddar cheese.
It’s also an excellent “compromise” mac n’ cheese for kiddos and their parents because not only is it tasty (the only thing the kids care about), but it is quite a bit healthier than most of your homemade macaroni and cheese recipes out there (bonus for us adults). Instead of using heavy cream to achieve that heavenly, satiny smooth texture, I used a mixture of lowfat milk, nonfat Greek yogurt, and pasta water. All you do is add a little white rice flour to the sauce mixture to reach that desired thickness.
Plus, the extra tang from the Greek yogurt played so nicely with the flavor of the sharp cheddar cheese and the white wine. Mmmm! It makes me want a bowl just thinking about it.
Oh, and you know what else is also kid and adult friendly??? 30 MINUTES!!!
Heck yeah. No kid wants to wait longer than it takes to whip up a batch of Kraft mac n’ cheese, and no adult wants to slave over the stove all night listening to kids whining about how hungry they are and, “Is it done yet???!” 30 minutes baby, only 30 minutes.
Now this mac n’ cheese is vegetarian if you follow the basic recipe, but you can dress this up however you like. I’m all about textures with my pasta dishes. I don’t want to just eat a soft bowl of noodles. So, I like to spice it up with crispy bacon, croutons, or breadcrumbs. You can also add some sour cream or extra cheese to the top just for kicks. Who doesn’t like more cream and cheese???
I’m really wishing I had a cup of this warm and toasty mac n’ cheese while I was shivering away in the car tonight. I would have warmed up much faster and my tummy probably would have been happier eating this for dinner than a cup of frozen yogurt…although I do LOVE frozen yogurt.
So go ahead and welcome Fall with this family friendly 30 minute meal that will warm your soul and put a smile on your face. Plus, with the carrots and cheddar cheese it’s kind of the color of Fall leaves and pumpkins so that should make you happy too, right?
Are you a mac n’ cheese fan?
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into pea sized pieces
- 4 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup white wine
- 1¼ cups milk (I used 1%)
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons white rice flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup pasta water
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (from a block, so it melts smoother)
- 1 12 oz. box gluten free rotini noodles (I used Barilla brand)
- Begin boiling salted water for pasta. (Begin boiling noodles once you start sauteing your veggies and make sure to reserve 1 cup of pasta water after boiling.)
- In a separate large pot (preferably cast iron dutch oven), heat butter over medium heat. Once pot is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, reduce heat to slightly below medium and add diced onions, carrots, and mushrooms. Lightly season with a few shakes of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender. Add garlic and cook 2 mins more. Add white wine and cook until reduced, about 3 minutes more.
- While wine is reducing, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, white rice flour, 1½ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ground mustard, thyme, and paprika. Pour mixture into veggie mixture. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened to a chowder consistency. Slowly pour in 1 cup of water, while stirring vigorously, from the cooked pasta. Stir until mixture has come together smoothly. Reduce heat to low and add in shredded cheese, stirring mixture until cheese is completely melted. Toss in cooked noodles and stir to completely coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately topped with extra cheese, sour cream, and gluten free croutons or toasted breadcrumbs.