Struggling to get your children to eat those all-important 5 a day? Fear not we’ve enlisted the help of our friends at Sneaky Veg to bring you some wholesome, healthy family dinner ideas. This week it’s our all-time favourite, macaroni cheese, but with a twist! It has three hidden vegetables to give those picky eaters an extra boost!

This macaroni cheese looks exactly the same as a standard macaroni cheese – yet it has three healthy and delicious portions of vegetables – cauliflower, sweet potato and butternut squash – added. It’s a great vegetarian dinner and is equally perfect for anyone who wants to find an easy way to get more vegetables into their diet and for picky eaters who try to avoid vegetables!

These days I’m all for transparency in feeding my kids and I try to avoid hiding too many vegetables in their meals – however, on occasion I just want to make sure that my children – in particular my eldest – do eat some vegetables! That’s when dishes like this come in so handy. It looks exactly like ordinary macaroni cheese.

I’ve been blending butternut squash into the cheese sauce for ages but wanted to see if I could vary the veg a little bit. In this recipe for macaroni cheese, I’ve added cauliflower, sweet potato and butternut squash. It all got eaten, and no one noticed the difference. This doesn’t mean that my son is any more likely to pick up a floret of cauliflower and tuck into it any time soon but at least I know that when he’s eaten a plate of this he’s had some goodness – not just a heap of carbs and dairy.

Here’s how to make vegetarian macaroni cheese with hidden cauliflower, sweet potato and butternut squash:

Ingredients (serves four)

1 medium sweet potato (around 200g), peeled and diced
200g chunk of butternut squash, peeled and diced
200g cauliflower, broken into smallish florets
25g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk
100g cheddar cheese
200g macaroni or other pasta shape
Salt and pepper, to taste
50g breadcrumbs


1. Place the vegetables together in a steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes until soft.
2. Bring a large pan of boiling water to the boil, add the macaroni and cook for 10 minutes or so, until just soft. I don’t usually salt the water when I’m cooking for the kids but feel free to if you want.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir through the flour and whisk in the milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, for around five minutes. Don’t worry about the sauce thickening too much as you want it to be on the runny side for macaroni cheese.
4. Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted.
5. Add the cooked vegetables to the sauce and blend until smooth.
6. Add the cooked pasta and mix well. If you like you can serve it like this or if you prefer then transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and grate a little more cheese over the top and cook in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden.