Healthy Mock-aroni and Cheese Pasta with Broccoli

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Healthy Mock-aroni and Cheese Pasta with Broccoli As a big sister of some very picky eaters, I am constantly trying to find new ways to sneak in some veggies and it is really tough. No matter how many times you try to explain to a five-year-old that vegetables are good and it is important to eat them they never seem to understand the concept.  The older ones are not any better. They seem to think that the vegetables in their meals are garnishes not meant to be eaten. I find it much easier now to just hide the veggies. What they don’t know won’t hurt them and in this case quite the opposite.


 I have mentioned before that there are certain ingredients lacking here in Chile that I am used to using. Upon arriving here about 8 months ago I discovered that there were no pumpkins. IMG_0029-2 I’m sad that they don’t have the large orange squashes that are so iconic of Harvest time and Halloween in The U.S. and many other parts of the world. We were not able to do our annual pumpkin carving last year or visit a pumpkin patch. Though I don’t think it would have been the same because of the whole opposite season thing. Here in the southern hemisphere it is fall now when I am used to it being spring. I never imagined that I would be eating pumpkin around mother’s day. 


  Even if it is kind of bizarro to me, it is fall and there are cravings for pumpkin pie spice going on in my house no matter what the calendar says. Unfortunately, I don’t have pumpkin to use in delicious desserts and breads or in savory things like this.
IMG_8021-2 However, I did discover an alternative for pumpkin. Here in South America they grow a squash very similar to a pumpkin. It is called zapallo (sa-pa-yo) and is very popular here. They use it in many of the ways that pumpkins are used and I have used it to replace pumpkin in many recipes including this one. It’s big and green as you can see in this picture below from here (this site is in Spanish.) They sell them whole but it is much more common to see them cut and to buy them in wedges.


 This recipe is great whether you are using pumpkin or happen to live in South America and are using zapallo. I used whole wheat pasta and added broccoli. You really can’t detect the pumpkin/zapallo. The kids had no idea they were eating something with nutrition. I feel sneaky and triumphant at the same time.

Healthy Mock-aroni and Cheese Pasta with Broccoli

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Healthy Mock-aroni and Cheese Pasta with Broccoli


  • 1 16-ounce box (or 1 500-gram box) uncooked whole wheat pasta noodles
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown or dijon mustard
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese of choice (cheddar would be best but, because I didn't have cheddar I used edam.)
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour and stir continuously until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and pour in milk while stirring.
  2. Return to low heat and boil until starting to thicken and coat the back of spoon. Add seasonings, mustard, and pumpkin and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
  3. Stir in pasta noodles and broccoli and serve immediately.


I opted not to bake this pasta this time but I have in the past and it is really good. If you want to bake it, just put it in a casserole dish, cover with a little extra cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F (180 C) for 25-30 minutes. Recipe adapted from Inspiredtaste's Easy Pumpkin Mac And Cheese Recipe

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  1. JR says

    Love your “sneaky” approach. I’ve loved all the food you’ve prepared (despite my dairy issues.) You are developing “mad” photo skills…keep it up.

    • Tori says

      Thanks! It means more coming from someone who has seen the space in which I am making and photographing all of this. I hope to cook for you again soon.

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