Macaroni and Cheese in a Broccoli Forest

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Notes If you prefer homemade macaroni and cheese, just use your favorite recipe in place of the boxed type listed.


6-1/4 cups water, divided

1 box white cheddar macaroni and cheese mix

2 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

1 or 2 bunches of broccoli

1/8 cup fat-free or light sour cream

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat milk, divided

1-1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter


Boil 6 cups of the water. Stir in the macaroni noodles. Boil rapidly, stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Return to the pan.


While you are preparing the macaroni, your child age four or older can grate the cheddar cheese, being careful to avoid grating the fingers (you can cut the block of cheese into a more manageable size to hold). Set aside the cheese. Your child can also help break the broccoli florets off of the bunches, ideally with an inch or so of stem remaining. Microwave about 2 cups' worth of florets in a microwave-safe covered container with the remaining water until tender (about 5 minutes depending on your microwave). Set aside broccoli to cool.

Once the noodles are boiled, drained, and added back to the pan, add the sour cream to a 1- or 2-cup measure or small bowl. Your child age three or older can slowly stir 1/4 cup of the milk into the sour cream, tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring to blend. Add the milk mixture to the noodles along with the margarine or butter and the cheese sauce mix (from the box). Your child can help mix them together with a wooden spoon. Add a tablespoon or 2 more of the remaining milk if needed.

Spoon a serving of the macaroni and cheese onto a microwave-safe plate. Now your child can place the broccoli (trees) into the mound of macaroni to make a forest. Have your child sprinkle some rain (grated cheese) over the forest. Microwave the plate just to melt the cheese slightly (about 1 minute). Your child can now eat!

Makes about 4 servings

Estimated time (minutes)
Total Time: 45
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    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size
    Number of Servings 4
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 220    Calories from Fat 100
    Amount per Serving
    % Daily Value*
    Total Fat 11g

      Saturated Fat 5g

    Cholesterol 25mg

    Sodium 260mg
    Vitamin A 48%
    Vitamin C 453%
    Amount per Serving
    % Daily Value*
    Total Carbohydrate 22g

      Dietary Fiber 8g

      Sugars 5g

    Protein 13g
    Calcium 6% Iron 3%
    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
    Total Fat
    Less than
      Sat Fat
    Less than
    Less than
    Less than
    Total Carbohydrate
      Dietary Fiber
    Calories per gram:
    Fat 9 * Carbohydrate 4 * Protein 4

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