Family & Home/ Food & Drink

How To: Trick Kids (And Adults!) Into Eating Vegetables

trick kids into eating vegetablesIf you had asked 8-year-old me if I wanted turnips for dinner, something like “eww, no” or  “grossssss” would have been the answer. Sadly, the same question posed to “adult” me would probably get the same response. But if the turnips were tucked into macaroni and cheese? Well, that’s a much more interesting proposition.  I imagine there are plenty of parents that are looking for clever ways to slip a few extra veggies into their kids’ (or their own) diet, so check out this recipe from Andrea Chesman’s Recipes From The Root Cellaryou won’t be hearing words of protest when this dish hits the table.

In this dish, any of the root vegetables you happen to have in the house will work well, though turnips and rutabagas are favorites. If you have a pasta pot with a colander insert, you can easily cook the vegetables in the same boiling water as the macaroni.

Cheesy Mac With Root Vegetables

Print Recipe
Serves: 6


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups peeled and diced mixed root vegetables (carrots, celery root, golden beets, parsnips, rutabagas, salisfy, and/or turnips) or winter squashes
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups lightly packed grated sharp cheddar (8 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs



1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a large casserole dish.


2. Bring two large pots of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni to one pot and cook until al dente. Drain well. Transfer to the casserole dish.


3. In the second pot of boiling water, cook the vegetables until fork-tender, about 10 minutes; the vegetables should still hold their shape. Drain well. Transfer to the casserole dish.


4. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, if using, and sauté until limp, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour to form a smooth paste. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring to prevent lumps. When the sauce thickens, add the cheese, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.


5. Stir the sauce into the macaroni and vegetables. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.


6. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are browned. Serve hot.


You can vary the vegetables as you please. A sliced leek or one-quarter of a yellow onion can replace the shallot. If you only have carrots on hand, you can simply grate a couple of them and add to the cheese sauce with the milk. Or you can add 2 cups shredded root vegetables (any type) to the cheese sauce and add 2 cups frozen vegetables (any type) to the pasta, 1 to 3 minutes before the pasta will be done.


1 Comment

  • Reply
    September 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I know this post is a little old now, but I just discovered your recipe while looking for root vegetable recipes. I’d never have thought to use root vegetables like this, but it tastes great – the kids loved it! 🙂

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