This creamy mac and cheese makeover contains bite-sized vegetables.  Serve with salad or vegetable sticks on the side.

By Emily Richards, P.H. Ec.

4 servings

Prep time: 0h 20m

Cook time: 0h 20m

Total time: 0h 40m

1 ½ cups whole grain macaroni or fusilli, uncooked375 mL
2 tsp soft non-hydrogenated margarine10 mL
1 onion, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 carrot, finely chopped 
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper125 mL
½ cup grated zucchini125 mL
2 tbsp all purpose flour30 mL
2 cups skim milk500 mL
1 tsp or ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme or dried thyme leaves5 mL or 2 mL
1 cup shredded lower fat old Cheddar cheese250 mL
1 tsp Dijon mustard5 mL
  Pinch of ground pepper 


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.

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? Older kids can help grate cheese and zucchini using a box grater.
  • If you don’t have time to cut vegetables in small pieces, cook larger pieces a bit longer until they are tender.
  • To use frozen vegetables, replace carrots, red pepper and zucchini with 500 mL (2 cups) diced, mixed frozen vegetables.
  • Ask your kids to choose what pasta shape they want to use. There are lots to choose from such as penne, scoobi doo, shells and wagon wheels.

Original source:  Macaroni and cheese with vegetables | Government of Canada, 2023.