By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina
As a little girl growing up in Colombia, my days were spent cooking with my Nana. I was a very active kid so the best way for my grandma to keep me entertained was to have me help her in the kitchen.
Looking back, I've noticed something about the meals I helped my grandmother prepare:
the children ate what everyone else in the family ate. As long as I can remember, there was never a separate children's menu. In fact, I was 15 when I learned that mac and cheese, a favorite of American kids, even existed.
Now, I have two beautiful nieces who are growing up in this country and are well-exposed to the usual kid-friendly options like macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders. Concerned about their eating habits, my sister Angie and I spent a day in the kitchen trying to figure out a better way to feed them similar foods with healthier ingredients. We tried mac & cheese, but the first problem was to make it look like the original version, and get the girls to think they were eating the same dish. Well, we replaced the cheese mix for Crema Latina, a type of light dairy cream but with a saltier flavor. The only issue was that Crema Latina is white, and we still needed to add the orange color to make it look like the real deal. We looked through the cabinets and found some turmeric. Turmeric is an orange root that looks like ginger, and it only takes a teaspoon of it to turn any meal into an orange color paradise. We topped it with shredded queso fresco and served it to the girls for lunch. The meal was an absolute hit, especially when it only has half the calories of the original package. The girls loved it without even realizing that it was our own, Latin version of Mac & Cheese…a ver que les parece…
Try this recipe for a kid-approved pineapple boat dessert
Crema Latina Mac & Cheese (4 servings)
2 cups water
1 ½ cup macaroni
Salt to taste
1/3 cup Crema Latina
4 oz. shredded queso fresco
1 teaspoon turmeric
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and the macaroni; let it cook for 11 minutes. When ready, drain the water, but make sure to leave the macaroni moist. Add the crema latina, queso fresco, and turmeric. Mix well, and serve.
Crema Latina Mac & cheese - Crema latina is a type of cream that looks like thick half-and-half. It can be found in the dairy section of Latin supermarkets as "Crema Latina" or "Crema Centroamericana".
- Queso fresco is a white, soft and moist Latin cheese, also found in Latin supermarkets. It can be substituted for shredded light mozzarella or your favorite white cheese.