The First Lady Digs Up Our Lawn, Plants A Garden & Writes A Book

August 17, 2012   13 Comments

Before anyone gets bent out of shape, this article is not political in nature. This post is about healthy food.

American Grown Review

Michelle Obama has written a book about the White House kitchen garden and other community gardens around the country. The author proceeds of this book are going to the National Park Foundation.

One of the first things Michelle Obama did when she moved into the White House was plant a vegetable garden and start talking about healthy eating. She related the story of being talked to by her pediatrician about what she was feeding her children with candor.

She, like many of us, was giving her kids way too many convenience foods. Now, I guess they all go down and chew on the broccoli in their yard :)

Why do I like this book? I find the White House vegetable garden inspirational. Here in my small town, a group of people got together to put in a garden at my kid’s school and I found that inspiring, too! (see: Making A Difference By Planting A Garden)

If you like gardens, or are thinking about starting one, this book is going to get you to buy a pot for your windowsill or a garden hoe. The photos are gorgeous and the stories of gardens will make you proud of the communities that have created them.

I love the story of a garden in Houston where they just put large pots on concrete! How cool is that? Instant garden.

The book includes practical information about planting a garden for all four seasons and lots of ideas for which produce to plant.

There are recipes, too, and I chose the Mac and Cheese with cauliflower to feature below. This is not a low calorie recipe, but one serving has 55% of your daily value of calcium, and 18% of your daily value of iron.

It seems simple to make and I am sure my son (Mr. Macaroni) will love this rendition.

American Grown Review

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe

(no reviews yet)

reprinted with permission from “American Grown” by Michelle Obama


Using pureed cauliflower gives this variation on the classic mac and cheese a deliciously creamy texture without the extra fat and calories, and the whole- wheat pasta has a nutty flavor. The pasta and cauliflower can be cooked at the same time, and since you’re not baking the dish, it’s an easy weeknight treat. Serve it as a side; or just add a salad and you’ve got dinner. If you’re feeding a family with big appetites, the recipe is easily doubled. —Chef Cris

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½ pound whole-wheat penne
¼ head cauliflower, cut into florets
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup 1% or 2% milk Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package


directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add the cauliflower, and cook for 5 to 7

minutes, or until soft. Drain. Place the cauliflower in a blender and puree.

  1. In a medium pan over medium heat, place the pasta, the cauliflower puree, the cheeses, and the milk. Stir gently to combine and continue stirring until the cheese is melted.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the mac and cheese

and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

For one serving of 4: 465 calories, 22.1 g fat, 43.2 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g sugar, 27.2 g protein, 6.4 g fiber, 489 mg sodium, 12 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

Other posts you might like:


Making A Difference By Planting A Garden

Everyone who reads Snack Girl is at least thinking about healthy eating. They may not be doing it right now - but they are considering it....


Declare Victory With A Garden

Last week, Snack Girl complained about the high price of organic produce (see: How Important Is It To Buy Organic?). This week she did something about it....

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I love cauliflower in the mac & cheese but I don't puree mine which gives the dish an added crunch. Just steam or cook the cauliflower with the penne in the last 7 minutes. I use to add broccoli in my mac & cheese but cauliflower is much better since it compliments the dish & is easily hidden. If your family isn't use to veggies added to your dishes, go ahead & use your blender to puree them. I just don't think it's necessary to do so & can be time consuming. too.

I've definitely flipped the book for recipes. You can say what you want about politics, but the First Lady really has committed herself to her healthy initiative, which I think is very admirable.

The book sounds great! I love Michelle Obama, she is a different kind of first lady! I love that she is all about healthy living and gardens. The recipe sounds wonderful!!

I have a big bottle of carrot juice in the fridge, but no cauliflower. I wonder how this recipe will turn out using carrot juice in place of the cauliflower.

I read a preview of this book on my Nook. I really enjoyed the first few parts that I read! Thanks for reviewing.

Since I'm always looking for quick satisfying ideas for dinner, etc., this looks like a yummy winner. I like Cindy P's idea of not pureeing the cauliflower, but was thinking I'd do both just to get some extra veggies in there. In addition, in my household, we're constantly looking for extra protein and fiber to help keep my teenaged son full. So while the whole wheat penne is pretty good, for us, Barilla's Pasta Plus is even better.

Oh, and many thanks for the review as well!!

Adding homegrown cauliflower to a calorie-laden, cholesterol boosting recipe like this one does not a healthy recipe make. It just shows how to hide veggies instead of teaching kids to enjoy them.

I read this book earlier in the summer (from my library) and I loved it! It was so neat to learn about the history of the White House lawn and gardens, and about who and what keeps this kitchen garden going. The pictures were gorgeous, too. Politics aside, I love Michelle Obama and what she has done as First Lady.

I actually will be making this recipe with a few changes. I am going to use reduced fat cheeses and fat free soy milk. If you make those changes, the recipe becomes a 9pts+ per serving meal on WW. Cheese is good for you in moderation, and what this recipe does is add fiber and nutrients that it once lacked. It is a GREAT way to get picky eaters to get those rich health benefits from fiber, calcium, and iron. I don't care if it is "hidden," you can't make a kid sit there and eat something that they don't think will taste good...that doesn't teach them to like veggies. Trick them into eating them and prove to them that they are good, and it is easier to get them to eat them later in their true form.

This is one of the best things a First Lady could do to help educate and move our country in to the right direction toward health. I love fresh produce and eating locally. I do not have a green thumb, however, and the thought of planting and tending my own garden scares me. I'm sure this book will inspire!

Thanks you for such a refreshing...non-political... article about Michelle Obama. It is great to have a first lady that cares about our national health. My garden consists of 4 clay pots on a roll-around cart on my patio which makes it easy to care for and easy to pick. Fresh vegetables...YUM!

I like to roast the cauliflower before I purée it into my cheese sauce for my Mac and cheese. My kids know it is in there so I'm not hiding it, and it adds a veggie into dinner. My daughter refuses most veggies so I feel ok about making this at home with the cauliflower. I have also puréed white beans into the cheese sauce and it was not noticeable at all.

Dream Field pasta taste great and 5g net carbs. Will use idea about pureed white beans and keep cauliflower whole. Thanks.

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