Healthy Carrot Macaroni and Cheese

A creamy and delicious macaroni and cheese that has no butter, very little cheese and uses pureed carrot for a robust orange color. But nobody will ever know. It really does taste that good!

Macaroni and cheese with no butter and very little cheese. It gets its orange color from carrots. But it's so delicious that nobody would ever know!

I’ve been testing and developing recipes for Produce for Kids for a couple of years now. One thing that they sometimes do to boost the health-factor in their recipes is to add vegetables where you (and your kids!) wouldn’t expect them. Thus is the case with these Hidden Veggie Meatballs that were created for Produce for Kids by Amanda Keefer:

Hidden Vegetable Meatballs

My kids totally gobbled these up. I couldn’t believe how good they are, and yet nice and healthy.

This hidden veggie trick got me thinking about our other family favorites and how I can hide some veggies in them. I’m starting with Macaroni and Cheese. The key will be to still have a nice creamy sauce but to use less cheese and include a vegetable.


If I make macaroni and cheese with very little cheese, but it’s still orange, nobody will know the difference.


I cooked some carrots and then pureed them really well with the cooking water. I added flour and milk to that and some cheese. But not very much. It was 1 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/2 cup of cheddar. It made a nice creamy sauce with a perfectly orange cheddar color. I mixed it with cooked elbow macaroni and served it to the participants.


My husband, my kids and one colleague – all macaroni and cheese lovers.


My husband ate it up quickly and didn’t mention or notice a thing.

My kids ate it happily, for dinner that day and then again for lunch the next two days. No complaints. Just, “Yay! Mac ‘n Cheese!”

My fellow editor, Lyndsay, from The Cookful, came over that day to cook with me. She dove right in and then looked at me. She said, “Sooo good. Sharp cheddar? What else is in there. Mmmm.”

Results and Discussion:

Carrot Macaroni and Cheese is decidedly delicious and due to its intense orange color, people believe it’s loaded with cheese even though it’s not. I guess we really do eat with our eyes. And if our eyes say, “CHEESE!” our mouths lap it up.

Healthy Carrot Macaroni and Cheese


  • 1 lb. large elbow macaroni
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped (that's about 1 and 1/4 cup of chopped carrots)
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


  1. Cook pasta according to packing instructions. Meanwhile, put the carrots in a medium sauce pan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. While the carrots cook, measure the flour and 1 cup of the milk into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Put the lid on and shake really hard until well-combined.
  3. Put the carrots and their cooking liquid into a blender or food processor and puree really really well until very smooth. Scoop the carrot back into the saucepan and add the flour mixture as well as the remaining 1 cup of milk. Bring up to a bubble over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once it is bubbling remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, cheddar, garlic powder and salt. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  4. Combine sauce with the cooked drained pasta.
Disclosure: Produce for Kids paid for me to attend a conference. In return I agreed to write some blog posts about some of their recipes. This is one of those blog posts. All opinions are my own.

4 Responses to “Healthy Carrot Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Roxanne Korte Ruckmar — February 7, 2016 @ 10:31 am (#)

    Where would I find the nutrition info for this recipe?

  2. sue|theviewfromgreatisland — January 17, 2016 @ 11:14 am (#)

    I do mine with pumpkin, and it does the same thing, gives the macaroni great color and tons of nutrition, love this!!

  3. Megan {Country Cleaver} — January 14, 2016 @ 9:26 pm (#)

    I’m in love with macaroni but I never thought about adding carrots! it’s definitely time I start!!

  4. katie — January 11, 2016 @ 2:33 pm (#)

    Love this recipe! I started doing a similar thing last year for Ryder and he eats it up every single time!!!

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