If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you may* have seen my posts on the recent petition by 100 Days of Real Food and Food Babe regarding Kraft mac & cheese. The short version is that in the US, the ubiquitous blue box contains potentially harmful artificial food dyes, whereas the equivalent product in the UK is only colored naturally, with no compromise on appearance or taste. And in fact, there are MANY examples of ways that major American food manufacturers have adjusted their European products to be free of some of the most questionable additives and ingredients, but since American consumers have not yet demanded the same changes, we are left with much more questionable products.
The way I see it, there are two ways to combat this problem:
The first is activism and getting involved in ways like signing the petition to remove food dyes from Kraft’s mac & cheese. Even if, like me, you haven’t bought a box in a long time, your signature sends an important message to food manufacturers and helps children who are eating this product on a regular basis.
The second way is to VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS, which is the easiest way to make your opinion known on a daily basis. And to help you do that, I’m sharing yet another recipe for mac & cheese, this time one that takes about the same amount of time as making a boxed variety, but with all real ingredients. Even the organic boxed varieties can’t hold a candle to homemade – there is nothing like an ooey gooey cheese sauce, balanced seasoning that is not excessively salty, and some veggie boosters to elevate mac & cheese into a dinner you can feel good about.
So, step away from the blue box! Vote with your dollars while giving your taste buds and your body a real treat with this stovetop mac & cheese.
Stovetop Mac & Cheese
inspired by 100 Days of Real Food
1 lb whole wheat elbow pasta
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
5 cups milk
1 8-oz block cheddar, shredded (I cannot vouch for pre-shredded, but comments on the original recipe suggest that it might not work as well)
1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly grated nutmeg and pepper, plus additional salt, to taste
1-2 cups finely chopped cooked veggies of your choice (optional; we like thawed and drained frozen chopped spinach)
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese. Melt the butter over medium low heat, and then add flour. Whisk until mixture starts to bubble slightly. Turn heat to low and slowly pour in milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Turn the heat up to medium high, and heat the milk mixture, whisking regularly, until it just starts to boil.
Turn off the heat, then add cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, mixing well until cheese is fully melted. Add the cooked pasta and veggies, mix, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.
At this point the mac & cheese might look a little “soupy”, but it is delicious this way and will also firm up a bit as it sits, so if you want it less liquidy just let it sit about 10 minutes before serving.
(Note: If you are in a rush, cook the pasta in a separate pot while preparing the cheese sauce. If not, you can cook the pasta first or in advance and use the same pot to make the sauce.)
Makes approximately 6 servings.
*As a side note, as much as I love Facebook as a platform for conversation, they have an annoying habit of not showing posts for pages to all those who have “liked” that page. So, if you are a fan on Facebook, please make sure that you hover over the “Liked” button and select “Show in News Feed” and also interact with the page by liking and/or commenting to ensure all posts make it to your news feed!