Quinoa Mac & Cheese

When I was a young child, I enjoyed eating hot dogs with the blue box macaroni and cheese. Who else ate that?! Now it’s still comforting in a way… though we know that it is not too healthy and there were no vegetables. I made this baked quinoa mac and cheese recipe with chicken sausages AND hidden veggies to help bring back that comfort food.

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Baked Quinoa Mac And Cheese

This baked quinoa mac and cheese has hidden veggies inside too which is something we may have lacked in the earlier days. It has many nutritious components and you can find out how they are loaded with nutrients below. I like to use Gilbert’s Craft chicken sausages, the ones with basil, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomatoes. Yum! I found a big box at Costco and keep them in the freezer for easy use. If you don’t eat meat then you can certainly make this without any or use a different kind of protein. 

Baked quinoa mac and cheese

Benefits of Quinoa, Butternut Squash, and Kale

Quinoa

There are some grains that perhaps we shouldn’t eat much of, but quinoa isn’t one. Quinoa is full of vitamins and minerals. Note that some say soaking grains makes these minerals more absorptive. I say it can’t hurt, so my quinoa is soaked a few hours before making it in a bit of apple cider vinegar and water.

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Manganese
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Thiamin
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese

Among many others nutrients. To make it simple, all of these make our bodies work better. The B vitamins help with energy metabolism.The minerals help with healthy cells, blood pressure, and bone building.

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Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is typically a fall or winter vegetable, but it can be found in the frozen section as well. I like to buy a bag of frozen when it’s on sale. It is cooked quickly without the hassle of peeling and chopping. Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and magnesium among more. It specifically has these antioxidants to help fight cancer and also low in calories for weight loss. We need a source of fat to help some of these absorb. That’s cheese and milk. 

Kale

Kale is a famous health food. It is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, and iron among many others. There are too many to list! Kale should be on your list of things to eat. If you don’t like kale and could tolerate another green it’s very easy to substitute in this recipe. Just use spinach, it has a relatively mild flavor and less tough Alternatively, use broccoli or cauliflower. The possibilities are endless but make sure it’s a vegetable. 

Baked quinoa mac and cheese


Fresh Flavors: Enjoy the comforting flavors of baked quinoa mac and cheese with extra nutritious hidden vegetables.


Print Recipe
Baked Quinoa Mac And Cheese
This baked quinoa mac and cheese brings the comfort food back from childhood with some hidden vegetables.
Baked quinoa mac and cheese
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Baked quinoa mac and cheese
Instructions
Cook Quinoa & Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa according to directions. Otherwise: bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse quinoa. Add quinoa to boiling water and lower heat to low. Let simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Turn off the burner and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes. Drain excess water if necessary.
Cook Squash & Kale
  1. Boil or steam squash and kale according to your preferences. It should be soft enough to blend. I prefer to saute kale in a pan for a few minutes For squash, I boil in water for a few minutes until fork tender.
Make Cheese Sauce
  1. Blend the cooked squash, cheese, milk, seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste. Add any other seasonings you need or more cheese, if you prefer. I use a food processor. You can also use a blender.
Combine Ingredients
  1. In a large bowl, put in the cooked quinoa, cooked kale, cheese sauce, and chicken sausages. Mix all these together.
Bake Mac And Cheese
  1. Place the mixture into a pan of around 8x8 or 9x9. Spread even. Bake for about 30 minutes. Shred additional cheese on top if you love cheese.
Recipe Notes

You don't have to use chicken sausages or kale. If you like to keep it plain, just add the sauce to the quinoa. It can also be eaten without baking, I just prefer it to set up more. 

You can use non-dairy milk if needed and any other variety of cheese. I'm not sure what plain squash taste like if you skip cheese, but I'm sure it's not bad!


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24 Comments

  • Amanda

    August 6, 2017

    Ooo I love this twist to Mac n cheese! I need to figure dishes my kids will try and this may be one to give a go!

    Reply
  • kristal

    July 11, 2017

    I have been wanting to try this for such a long time. You make it look great.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth

    June 24, 2017

    This sounds delicious! I love mac and cheese so I can’t wait to try making this!
    Elizabeth | confidentlyelegant.com

    Reply
  • Julie I Aloha Lovely

    June 14, 2017

    Wow, we are big mac n’ cheese fans in our house. Gotta try this healthier variation. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Lexi @ TheGirlOnTheT

    June 14, 2017

    How have I never thought of this?! I’ve tried spaghetti squash “mac and cheese” before but this looks even better! The butternut squash really makes a difference for a healthier mac and cheese alternative. My mouth is watering!

    Reply
  • Danielle

    June 13, 2017

    I have to try this! My son is such a picky eater, but loves macaroni and cheese. This would be a great way to get some real nutrition in him.

    Reply
  • Abby

    June 13, 2017

    Quinoa as a substitute seems tasty! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I don’t usually eat mac and cheese but i’d definitely try it this way!

    Reply
    • Mindy Voet

      June 13, 2017

      Thanks! I don’t usually eat it either but this way works for me!

      Reply
  • Danielle Fairhurst

    June 13, 2017

    Mac and Cheese is one of my favourite meals, so to find a healthy alternative is perfect! I’ve saved this for future use 🙂

    Dani x | http://www.flourishingfreelancer.com

    Reply
  • Katie Foley

    June 13, 2017

    I totally love using quinoa as a substitute; this looks like such a yummy dish! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Lacee

    June 13, 2017

    Mac and cheese is my all time favorite comfort food. I will have to try this healthier option for sure!

    http://laceedoeslife.com

    Reply
  • Barbara

    June 13, 2017

    Mmmm. What a well-balanced recipe here for healthy deliciousness. 🙂

    Reply
  • Sarah

    June 13, 2017

    My children love mac n cheese. I hope they like this too because it sounds like grown up mac n cheese for me!

    Reply
  • This looks great! I love using quinoa as much as I can!

    Reply
  • Mama802

    June 13, 2017

    I love cooking with quinoa – it’s so healthy and delicious. My family and I just love it!

    Reply
  • Helene

    June 13, 2017

    sounds great! I’d leave out the meat though….veg. Have you kid tested this yet?

    Reply
  • Britt

    June 13, 2017

    This sounds amazing! I am definitely going to have to give it a try!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca/

    Reply
  • Shannon

    June 12, 2017

    Sounds yummy & healthy. Has it been kid approved?

    Reply
  • Interesting, I would never think to use quinoa!

    Reply
  • Amanda (Daphnie's Mom)

    June 12, 2017

    I cannot wait to try this recipe! I think even my daughter will like it!

    Reply
  • Ummm, could this sound any better?! Quinoa with butternut squash and cheddar AND kale sounds sooo yummy yet also healthy! YUMMMM

    Reply
  • Cindy's Travel Diaries

    June 12, 2017

    Thanks for this recipe ! 🙂

    Reply

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