young athletes

Jazzed Up Mac & Cheese Cups

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Hello! How is everyone’s week going? Mine has been quite packed, but the good kind of packed that keeps you on your toes and keeps you thinking. So much going on in January in the world of Wellness and I’m also staying pretty busy with sports nutrition items as well.

Today, however, oh my gosh, I’m excited to finally get to share with you one of my newer recipes, these jazzed up mac and cheese cups.. This is one of my favorite recipes yet. It’s so savory and cheesy and easy to eat. It’s basically mac & cheese with a few surprise ingredients in a cup! And a bonus - made with milk and cheese, each cup packs in some calcium, which we know everyone needs, especially the young growing athlete. I actually created these about a year ago, but it took me a few times to get the recipe just the way I wanted it and then I, of course, had to have friends and family give them a try and earn their stamp of approval. You can prep these ahead and then store them in the fridge until you are ready to bake which, if you know my recipes, you know I love. They also store and reheat nicely, which is great because the recipe makes 12. I store them in a big airtight container or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. They can be an easy option to take to school or work or enjoy as a late night dinner or post-practice snack. What makes them jazzed up? Well, I substitute some of the pasta for roasted cauliflower and add in sun dried tomatoes, which gives it a whole new level of deliciousness. And, honestly, you may not even realize it’s cauliflower in there if you are not paying attention. I seriously love these and I hope you do to! So, here you go, the recipe for my Jazzed Up Mac & Cheese Cups.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

JAZZED UP MAC & CHEESE CUPS

Makes 12 cups

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup macaroni noodles (will use 1 1/2 cups cooked)

  • Cooking Spray

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

  • 1 teaspoon flour

  • 1 1/4 cup 1% milk

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard

  • 1 whole egg, whisked

  • 1/2 cup rehydrated (according to package directions) and chopped sun dried tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the chopped cauliflower with the olive oil and salt.

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Spread cauliflower on lined baking sheet.

Roast cauliflower in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stir the cauliflower, and roast for 15 minutes more.

While the cauliflower cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil and, once boiling, add the macaroni, cooking about 7 to 8 minutes until tender. When done, drain the cooked macaroni into a large colander and set aside.

Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.

Now, increase the heat of the oven to 425 degrees F.

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Prep a 12-muffin tin (or two 6-muffin tins) by spraying lightly with cooking spray and then, using about 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle on the bottom of each muffin tin.

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Heat the same large pot you used to cook the noodles in to medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of flour. Whisk for about 3 to 4 minutes, allowing the flour to cook and start to brown.

Add the milk, whisking slowly as you pour it in, and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the milk begins to warm almost coming to a simmer.

Add the cheese to the warm milk and whisk in until the cheese melts into the milk and the mix is smooth.

Take pot off the heat and add the Dijon and egg and stir to incorporate all ingredients together.

Add 1 1/2 cup of the cooked macaroni, the sun dried tomatoes, and the cauliflower to the pot and fold it into the cheese sauce.

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Spoon mac and cheese mixture into each muffin tin (about 1/4 cup mix per tin).

Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove cooked mac and cheese cups from the oven, sprinkle tops of each with remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided equally between every cup.

Turn oven to a broil and broil on low for about 1 to 2 minutes until the tops start to brown and crisp a little.

Remove cups from the oven.

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Allow to cool about 10 minutes so that the cups will keep their shape when you take them out of your tins. After they cool a little, I run a knife around the edges of each muffin tin to help get each mac and cheese cup out smoothly.

Serve immediately or store to enjoy later in the week!

Serve It Again!

As I mentioned earlier. Wrap each individually in foil or plastic wrap to pull out and take with you as a part of lunch. Or reheat them as an easy side with dinner another night of the week. OR grab one after an afternoon or evening practice as an easy source of protein, quality carbohydrate and calcium!

NUTRITION NOTES

Just one of these scrumptious cups contains 210 mg of calcium!

Sun Butter Squares: Doubled for the Growing Young Athlete

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Hey there!  Hope you had a fun and restful weekend.  To kick off this week I want to share with you a twist on this recipe that I previously posted.  It's yummy as originally written, but I created this modification in response to a need I commonly see in the young athletes I encounter.  Lately as I've been working with young athletes, I realize that we often talk a lot about ways to pack nutrition and /or energy into small quantities.  That's because one of the obstacles with young athletes can be getting enough calories and good nutrition in them throughout the course of their busy days and jam-packed schedules.  Breakfast has to be quick, lunch is short, snacks need to be easy.  

With that in mind, I decided to re-make my Cherry Sun Butter Squares but this time double the recipe.  I tried them this weekend and loved them just as much as the original recipe.  The taste was the same but they were denser so more to bite into.  And being thicker, or denser, than the original recipe, made it a little easier to cut them into squares, not crumbling as much when I sliced through them (there will be some crumbling b/c there is no flour, egg, butter, etc. in these).  If you or your young athlete have trouble getting a bite in before running out the door in the morning or if your young athlete doesn't have a huge appetite in the morning, these could be an easy solution.  Now that I've doubled the recipe you get more "bang for your buck".  They are great either way, but if you're having trouble getting enough breakfast in the morning, these bars, or something like them (because you can create your own variety with your favorite dried fruits, nut / seed butters), could be a great option.

The doubled recipe is below.  For my initial post with step-by-step pictures of how I put it all together, click the link here!

SUN BUTTER QUARES: FOR THE ATHLETE THAT NEEDS MORE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (quick cooking)

  • 1 cup Sun Butter

  • 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) dry milk powder

  • 1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) honey

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Mix ingredients together with a rubber spatula until well-incorporated (can also use a fork).

  3. Line a 9x9 inch baking dish with parchment paper ( I actually used an 8" x 8.5")

  4. Spread oat - Sun Butter mixture out evenly along bottom of dish, making sure to get to all sides and corners

  5. Cover dish and place in the freezer. Allow to rest in the freezer for at least 3 hours. I leave mine in the freezer overnight.

  6. When ready, bring dish out of the freezer and lift up the bars with the parchment paper, placing parchment paper and bars on a flat surface.

  7. Run a sharp knife through hot water and then blot carefully to remove excess water. Making the knife really hot will make it easier to slice through the cold bars.

  8. Slice evenly into 9 individual bars.

  9. Serve bars immediately or wrap, individually in plastic wrap and store in the freezer so that squares are ready to go as you need them!

Hope you and your family enjoy these bars as much as we do!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor