Taco Mac and Cheese Please!
Taco Mac and Cheese is my THM version of the hamburger helper type meals that so many grew up eating as a kid. While this isn’t exactly the like the boxed dinners, it is sure to please your family with all the warm gooey cheese sauce and beefy noodles!
Sometimes us moms on THM have a hard time finding meals or dinners that we can eat that will feed our whole families too. Many of the ladies that that follow THM say one of the hardest things is finding meals that their husbands and kids will eat on plan.
I am lucky enough to have a hubby that eats pretty much anything I put in front of him and a son that isn’t picky, but I can imagine how tough that could be so a few days ago I ask my 10-year-old son if he would like to help me here on the blog for a new series called THM Kids.
Thankfully he agreed and it was with his help that this first recipe, Taco Mac and Cheese, was born! He helped me from the recipe idea right up to cooking the food. So this is a great recipe to use to get those kids in the kitchen too! Nate’s already got the second recipe for this series planned out so stay tuned for those Chicken and Black Bean Quesadillas!
Simple and Family Friendly
If you think about it, what’s not to love when you are dealing with pasta, cheese, beef? Even for picky eaters, it’s pretty hard to go wrong when you cover the meal in cheese, right?
When my little guy was a toddler we made sure to introduce him to as many veggies and fruits as possible, and thankfully he has grown to love all of them…well except mushrooms. And sadly, the theory of cheese makes everything better doesn’t work on that one, ha!
If you’re not lucky enough to have a kiddo that enjoys veggies then try adding small amounts to recipes like this Taco Mac and Cheese to slowly work those healthy options into their meals.
A great way to do that is to use the food processor to chop the onions, peppers, or other veggies up into very tiny pieces that go unseen by those picky little eyes. No need to go overboard, just small amounts to work them up to it.
This easy mac and cheese recipe is creamy, rich and delicious with or without veggies and not only will it satisfy your hard to please kids but it cooks up so quickly that it will be the cook’s favorite too.
All About the Cheese!
This recipe is very simple and straight forward to make but a few things that I don’t skimp on and one of those is the cheese! While you can buy your cheese pre-grated, I find that it never melts quite as well as when you shredded your own cheese off the block.
The shredded stuff in the stores use powders like potato starches to prevent caking but I swear I think it makes it harder to melt into things like sauces. I also find that the freshly grated cheese has a better flavor.
However, if you choose to grab a bag of shredded cheese there’ll be no judgment here. Do what works best for you and your cooking needs and time restraints. I’m all about making life simpler!
I used a box grater to shred my cheese for this recipe but sometimes when I do large batches of cheese I’ll use my grating attachment like THIS ONE that I have for my Kitchen Aid. I swear I love that mixer, it is my all time favorite gift my husband ever bought me! So many attachments like the grater and slicer that make cooking fun and easy!
When it comes to cheese, you can use one kind of cheese, or a combination to make this Taco Mac and Cheese even more amazing! You definitely can’t go wrong with more cheese if you ask me!
Cheddar is the typical cheese used in most mac and cheese but there are so many varieties of cheeses out there like pepper jack for a kick, Münster or Monterey Jack for a creamier texture, and my Gouda for a bolder flavor! Any of these cheeses would jazz up your pasta so don’t be afraid to try a variety!
Take a look at this POST from the Mashed website to get a good idea of all the choices for your next mac and cheese!
Tips for the Making this Taco Mac and Cheese
- Use block cheese and shred, do not buy the pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded bags are good for salads, or sprinkling on things, but in my opinion, the block cheese melts better in a sauce and tastes fresher. The shredded cheese also has some fillers to help prevent clumping, which I prefer to avoid.
- Don’t overcook your pasta or let it become too soft. You don’t want soggy macaroni. and if you use Dream Fields Pasta it recommends not overcooking.
- I used elbow pasta but any shape of pasta will work well with this recipe.
- For a gluten-free and super low carb option without Dream Fields substitute THM Noodles.
- The cheesy sauce in this recipe uses a low carb thicker that is THM approved called Glucci which is short for Glucomannan. It is very important when using this thickener to whisk it in slowly to avoid it clumping like jello. Now, if you are making this strictly for the children you can use a traditional thickener like flour or cornstarch, but these are not recommended for us that are trying to lose weight on THM or low carb.
- Need a quick hack for the cheese sauce, look for a store-bought jar brand like Ragu that fits your or your child’s dietary needs.
This recipe makes a large batch so it is great for left over to feed those hungry kids some lunches for those of us that have smaller families. I love serving this with a nice green leafy salad, but for those little picky eaters maybe try things like carrot sticks and ranch or a nonstarchy veggie they will eat.
Enjoy the recipe, and from myself and my little guy, we look forward to sharing the next recipe in this series soon!
A creamy and rich Mac and Cheese with amazing taco flavors made with THM approved ingredients for a family friendly recipe!
Meat & Pasta
- 1,5 lbs of ground beef
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 cup diced onions and bell pepper mix
- 1 cup of mild salsa
- 1 lb of Dreamfields Elbow Pasta
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup almond milk
- 6 oz of mild Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 6 oz of Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
- 4 oz very soft cream cheese
- 2 tsp glucci to thicken*
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1.2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and add in the ground beef and the onion and pepper mix. Cook until beef is fully cooked, and drain excess grease.
- As the ground beef is cooking prepare the pasta per the package instructions, then drain and set aside.
- To prepare the cheese sauce you will add the cream and almond milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a very soft boil then turn to simmer whisking often.
- Add the shredded cheese, cream cheese, and spices and whisk until all the cheese is melted and combined.
- Once the cheese is melted slowly sprinkle the Glucci into the cheese sauce as you continue to whisk. Simmer the cheese sauce until it begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Do not stop whisking.
- Once thickened remove the cheese sauce from the heat.
- Next add the taco meat, pasta, salsa, and cheese sauce to a large serving bowl and mix well.
- Serve hot with your family's favorite side such as salad, steamed broccoli or green beans.
Dreamfields pasta may not be the best options for some, but on THM it is knows as a personal choice option. If reheated it also becomes like normal pasta, which is fine for growing kids but is not advised for weight loss on THM. Also, for picky eaters in your family see the blog post above for substitution ideas
I am a southern girl through and through that loves to laugh, cook, read and spend time with family. My passions outside of home schooling my son are ministering to those in need and creating art in the kitchen! Every day is an adventure in our little house and I wouldn’t trade it or the chance to share here with you for anything!