Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sweet potato mac and cheese

Mac and cheese gets healthier and lighter in this creamy sweet potato mac and cheese recipe.

sweet potato mac and cheese

I freakin' love sweet potatoes.

Come on -- you've got to love a vegetable that is so naturally sweet that it tastes more like a fruit and, with a little dab of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, practically becomes candy.

Now, take that sweetness and pair it with rich, comforting mac and cheese? Awesome. And then tell me that it's actually a healthier mac and cheese, not loaded with cheese?

Wicked awesome. It's a Detox January Miracle!

Perhaps even better -- well, at least for The Ninj in January 2014 -- this sweet potato mac and cheese is nice and soft. (You might remember I mentioned last week that I started the new year with some oral surgery -- not fun, trust me -- which necessitates eating a lot of soft foods.)

Now if you've ever have any kind of oral surgery, you know that when the dentist tells you to eat soft foods, the list includes things like ice cream. Jello and milkshakes.

Yeah, now that's a nice healthy diet for a week. Jeesh.

I survived the first post-op days by drinking my favorite green smoothie, which also made me feel pretty darned superior as it was healthy and loaded with veggies to boot.

(Go Ninj!)

But a Ninj cannot live on smoothies alone. I needed some real food.

Enter mac and cheese. And not the orangey kind out of the box (which is what was recommended -- pffft.). I came across a version of this recipe in Eating Well magazine and knew that, minus the crunchy baked topping, it would be the perfect combination of healthy Detox January and soft post-op food for me. Booyah.

And it meant that Mr. Ninj and I could once again eat the same thing for dinner. Which wasn't drinkable.

This one will make more appearances around Casa de Ninj for sure, even when I'm allowed to eat crunchy things again.

So, how do you feel about sweet potatoes? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

sweet potato mac and cheese

Stovetop Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

(adapted from Eating Well)
This recipe can be easily made gluten-free by substituting a qunioa-based or brown rice pasta and GF flour.

16 ounces whole-wheat pasta
1 large sweet potato
2 cups skim milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (I use Cabot Seriously Sharp)
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup thawed frozen peas

Pierce the sweet potato a bunch of times with a fork and cook in the microwave until very smooshy and tender (about 10 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly.

While the sweet potato cooks, cook the pasta according to the package directions. In a saucepan, whisk together the milk, flour and garlic and heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.

Cut the sweet potato in half and scoop out the flesh. Add it to the hot milk mixture and puree until smoothy and saucy (it will be a lovely bright orange!). Add the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper and stirring until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and fold in the peas. Top each serving with a little more pepper (and salt to taste).
-- print recipe --


  1. This sounds very intriguing. I love sweet potatoes! I don't care much for the taste of whole wheat pasta, but I think I would like it in this. I'll have to give it a shot; I'm always looking for a healthier pasta alternative. Do you think I could substitute broccoli? Not a huge pea fan.

    1. Mr. Ninj doesn't like whole wheat pasta either, so use whatever kind you'd like. And sure -- little broccoli florets would be great!

    2. I actually bought whole wheat pasta yesterday, so I'm going to try this tonight. I don't expect my kids to eat this, and I don't HATE ww pasta, so I'm willing to give it a shot. I'll keep you posted.

  2. Sweet potatoes are the best! Adding them to a pan of creamy mac & cheese sounds so delicious. Yay!

  3. This sounds so good. Just the thought or oral surgery gives me the shivers!

  4. I love sweet potato so much, I started a business around them! :) It's called Yummy Yammy, and I make sweet potato salsas. They're fab. But i use sweeties in dishes like this at home a lot, too. For me, since I am not using gluten these days, I tend to outright avoid the grains whenever possible, so I see chopped cauliflower in place of the noodles altogether. What do you think? (I do occasionally have lasagna, though, when my sweet hubby makes it... and he makes a special pan for me with no tomato, and slabs of sweet potato instead. Mmmm!)