Mac n’ Cheese: the Naked Recipe

Macaroni and cheese is a great go-to food. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it tastes amazing! The problem? Our “Easy Mac” is usually made with “processed cheese food” – brand names like Velveeta and Kraft sell a product that resemble cheese, even taste a bit like cheese, but are actually über-processed and filled with chemical preservatives and cheap fillers. Yuck.

My husband is one of those staunch Kraft Mac n’ Cheese guys – which is why I took the challenge to find a recipe that he liked better than the famous blue box. But is it possible to mimic the delicious creamy taste with *ahem* real food??

I submit that it is!
Today I want to share my discovery with you.

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Today is also the day 200 bloggers are participating in Food Bloggers Against Hunger – raising awareness for different aspects of hunger and poverty in America. It’s in response to the recent documentary A Place At the Table, which delves into many of the problems surrounding the issue.

As I read up on these problems, the one that caught my attention the most was regarding government-subsidized crops.  Here’s the issue: the government is subsidizing crops like soy beans, wheat, and corn, which are used to make highly-processed, preservative-stuffed junk foods. (think: the high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil that shows up in all our salad dressings)  This means that the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest. Bad news for those with slim budgets!

I’ve just started looking into all the implications of this issue — I first heard about it last summer when I worked at Shared Legacy Farms, and it’s also something I’ve run into as a newlywed trying to manage a family budget and still eat healthy food. A lot of the pieces haven’t come together yet, and I still have  a lot to learn.

But what I DO know: (And why I’m participating in Food Bloggers Against Hunger):

>Eating right makes a huge difference in your quality of life.
>Healthy food means real food.  The less processed, the better.
> I don’t believe the government can fix all of our problems, but I do believe they have a responsibility to use their power and influence with integrity.
>Each one of us also has a responsibility to use our knowledge and resources to the best of our ability.
>Sometimes it’s the small steps that can make the biggest difference: choosing to use the resources you have as wisely as you can.

So. For my contribution to Food Bloggers Against Hunger, I want to give you a simple resource. If you or someone you know is trying to take steps from packaged, processed foods to a healthier lifestyle, I present to you:

THE RECIPE: Mac n’ Cheese: the Naked Version
This recipe takes less time and less ingredients than a box of Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, but still has that irresistible oozy, gooey cheesy taste. The price is also comparable, as it makes more and is more filling than the Kraft box of limp noodles and blazing orange powder. This recipe is husband-bonafide: he admitted he liked it better than Kraft Mac n’ Cheese!

True story.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole milk  + 1  cup water (~17 cents)
1 box of small shells or macaroni noodles (~$1)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (~$2.75)
salt (~.1)

Bring the milk/water combination to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot, stirring constantly. (the milk burns easily if you don’t watch it closely). When it boils, add enough pasta to be just covered by the milk.

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Boil about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until noodles are soft and the milk is thickened and reduced to a creamy saucelike consistency.

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Add 2 cups cheddar and stir till melted.

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Salt to taste. Serve immediately.

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Doesn’t it look delicious!? And while you’re at it, do some more research on your own if this piques your interest. As they say,

Be wise, be well!

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