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Sep 01

Healthier macaroni and cheese

It's back-to-school time for all you parents out there. Well, those of you with school-age children. I'm not quite there yet.

Anyhoo, I'm guessing back-to-school means schedules get crazier and bedtimes get earlier. It's probably tough trying to get a healthy, filling meal on the table for dinner. Something that your kids will actually eat.

Cooking Light actually came through here. They took a comfort food that's known for its abundance of fat and calories, and actually did make it a bit healthier.

The buttery bechamel sauce that's typical with homemade mac n' cheeses is replaced with butternut squash, nonfat milk, chicken broth and nonfat Greek yogurt. You take out the bad stuff, and add some nutrients in there instead!

The trio of cheeses that replaces cheddar or (yuck) American cheese is actually much lower in calories, too, according to Cooking Light. The calorie count goes to 390 per serving from 908 per serving.

Not that your kids will care about all that. They'll just be happy you served mac n' cheese, and it looks like normal mac n' cheese!

Of course, if you don't care about any of that health stuff, I totally recommend this recipe.

Recipe: Healthier macaroni and cheese

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1, 1-pound squash)
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 pounded macaroni noodles
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove drom heat.
  3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13×9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat tipping with cooking spray.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

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