Les Petits Chefs do-over mac n cheese with Joanne Lusted

Assembling mini mac n cheese bakes for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comIf you’ve been reading my Petits Chefs posts for a while now, you will know that as well as exposing the boys to all sorts of different foods and cooking techniques, I also like to show then that their favourite foods can be healthy and easy to make at home, too! One of our all time favourites in Cooking Basics club (for the little guys in Grades 3 and 4) has been Jamie’s Mac n Cheese (with hidden cauliflower) – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little mac n cheese from time to time, especially a homemade one – and on that note, it’s SO easy to make (healthier and from scratch!).

This week we were so very fortunate to welcome Joanne Lusted, a chef, recipe developer and host of the healthy cooking segment “Dish Do-Over” on CBC’s Steven and Chris. She is the co-host of Cottage Life Television’s Compete to Eat, and a contributing editor and resident chef for Tosca Reno’s Clean Eating. She recently published her first cookbook, “Dish Do-Over” which I thought would be PERFECT to use with the boys.  All their favourite dishes made healthier? Perfect! I met Joanne a few years ago and our paths have crossed many times in the Toronto food world – I knew she would be a great hit with the boys (not just for her mac n cheese, either!).

It was a bit of a strange session this week and was more like a drop in class – with boys arriving halfway through the session due to other commitments, the handful who were there at the start of the class got to work and did much of the mise en place.  They did a great job chopping onions…

Kids dicing onions for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.com Kids chopping onions for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comMincing garlic…

Kids mincing garlic for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comGrating cheese…

Kids grating cheese for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comChopping parsley…

Kids chopping parsley for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd mashing cooked sweet potatoes (and butternut squash)…

Kids mashing butterbut squash and sweet potato for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.com“But wait,” I hear you asking… “Sweet potatoes in mac n cheese?”

Why yes, it’s a great thickener to add some bulk to the sauce without adding extra fat. Plus it’s an extra way to sneak some veggies in!

It actually worked out really well that once the stragglers arrived in the lab, we were at the point of assembling the dish, ready to bake in the oven… I think it’s so important to show the boys exactly what goes into their food and at each step of the way, we talked the boys though the “what” and “why”. I have to tell you, little boys watching mac n cheese be prepared will guarantee you a captive audience!

First of all, in went the veggies. No-one seemed to complain…

Kids making cheese sauce with butternut squash for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comThen the CHEESE!!!!

Kids adding cheese to sauce for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comAdding extra cheese to the sauce for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comStirring the cheese into the sauce for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comMuch delight at the sheer amount of cheese (although it looks like more than it was – we were using a very small pan for the amount we were making!)

Then we added the macaroni…

Adding the macaroni to the cheese sauce for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd got to assembling mini versions to bake in the oven…

Making mini mac n cheese to bake for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe topped them with crispy panko, Parmesan and parsley…

Scattering panko breadcrumbs on top of mac n cheese for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comI mean, really – who wouldn’t like the look of these?

Mac n Cheese about to be baked for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhile the mac n cheese baked, Jo chatted with the boys about ways to make some of their favourite foods better for you. They pored over the book, checking out the tasty-sounding recipes and pointing out how many of them looked “awesome” 😉

About 15 minutes later, these emerged from the oven, golden and crunchy…

Baked mini mac n cheese for Dish Do-Over Mac N Cheese on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd we sent many little boys off into the chilly evening warming their hands with these. Also, in search of a fork 😉 (I’ll admit to eating my tiny portion still-warm and it was incredible. I’ll be making this one again, for sure!)

Thank you Jo for coming to work with the boys (especially on such a crazy day!). We so appreciate the time you took out of your schedule to teach the boys a few tricks for making some of their favourite foods better for them!

Get the recipe for Jo’s Mac N Cheese over on the Steven and Chris website.

Dish Do Over cover



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Disclosure: I received a copy of Dish Do-Over for review purposes from Harper Collins Canada. I was not asked to write about the book and have not been further compensated for writing this post.

4 thoughts on “Les Petits Chefs do-over mac n cheese with Joanne Lusted”

  1. Mardi, these boys are so lucky to be exposed to all of this wonderful cooking with you. And what a treat with Joanne! Great idea on the healthy versions of their favourite dishes. What a catch they’ll all be with such cooking skills behind them!

  2. Another fabulous day in your little lab kitchen! Well done LPC! These done in individual portions make me think that they would make a lovely little appetizer to a holiday gathering!

  3. Thanks LPC for a wonderful lunch snack. Once again, you had my colleagues envious in the canteen. Funnily enough, a few had already read this post and asked “do you have the boys’ mac ‘n cheese for lunch today?” How amusing – I didn’t know until I unpacked my lunch! 😉

    Also, as comparison, in a very hectic work week, Friday I was faced with no lunch at all, and no time to rush out. So was scrounging whatever I could find…a healthy granola bar, some cheese (glorious Riopelle, no less) and crackers, an apple…and I found one of those mini microwaveable KD single-serve tubs.

    WELL NOW…let’s just say yours was a billion times more satisfying, shall we? 🙂


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