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Mac and cheese with a veggie twist (Dinner)

Mac and cheese with a veggie twist (from Canada's food guide)

Give mac and cheese a makeover by adding bite-sized vegetables into the creamy sauce. This ooey gooey recipe is sure to be a favourite. Don’t have time to cut the vegetables into small pieces? No worries. Cook larger pieces a bit longer until they are tender.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Servings: 4





  • 375 mL (1 ½ cups) whole grain macaroni or fusilli

  • 10 mL (2 tsp) soft non-hydrogenated margarine

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped

  • 125 mL (½ cup) finely chopped red bell pepper

  • 125 mL (½ cup) grated zucchini

  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) all purpose flour

  • 500 mL (2 cups) skim milk

  • 5 mL (1 tsp) chopped fresh thyme or 2 mL (½ tsp) dried thyme leaves

  • 250 mL (1 cup) shredded light old Cheddar cheese

  • 5 mL (1 tsp) Dijon mustard

  • Pinch fresh ground pepper


  1. In a pot, bring water to boil. Add macaroni and cook for about 6 minutes or until pasta is tender but firm. Drain well and set aside.

  2. In a large saucepan, heat margarine over medium heat and cook onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add carrot, red pepper and zucchini and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in flour and cook, stirring until flour is absorbed. Slowly pour in milk and stir until smooth. Add thyme. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until starting to bubble. Stir in cheese, mustard and pepper. Remove from heat and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in cooked macaroni until well coated.


  • What kid doesn’t love mac and cheese? Ask your little chef to help grate the cheese using a box grater.

  • Make it yours. Personalize this recipe by switching up the cheese.

  • Here’s how you can use frozen vegetables in this recipe. Leave out the carrots, red pepper and zucchini and substitute 500 mL (2 cups) diced, mixed frozen vegetables in the sauce.

  • Ask your kids to choose what pasta shape they want to use. There are lots to choose from, like penne, scoobi doo, shells and wagon wheels.

  • Try using less of the ingredients that are high in added sodium, sugars or saturated fat. Adding salt or sugars directly to your recipe? Remember, a little often goes a long way.

Recipe developed by Emily Richards, P.H. Ec. for Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Source: © All rights reserved. Canada’s Food Guide: Recipes. Health Canada. Reproduced with permission from the Minister of Health, 2022.

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