Yes, I’m doing this….I’m saying that there is such a thing as Healthy Macaroni and Cheese! What comes to mind when you hear mac and cheese? I suddenly envision myself 5 years old, feet dangling off the edge of the chair and my Grandma serving up some of her ooey gooey cheesey macaroni and cheese!!! I can still see the steam coming off the spoon as it dips into the big white casserole dish. Well…..I have that recipe and if I made a regular habit of eating that, I would need to buy bigger pants and make an appointment with the cardiologist! By the way, the same goes for you if your memories of mac and cheese include a blue box and an oddly colored orange powdered “cheese”. Please!!
So in an effort to avoid the cardiologist and the ever dreaded pant-shopping experience, here is my healthy and wholesome version of Macaroni and Cheese.
Healthy Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 Butternut Squash, roasted and pureed OR 1 Frozen Package of Squash
- 8 oz Whole Wheat Elbow Macaroni
- 1 cup 1% Milk
- 1 1/2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- Fresh Grated Nutmeg
- 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 tbsp Butter, melted
Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and what not. Place cut side down in a large casserole dish in about 1 inch of water and roast at 350 degrees for about an hour. Once cooled, scoop out the squash and puree or mash with a large fork until smooth. If you don’t feel like going all Martha Stewart and breaking out the roasting pan, go ahead and buy the frozen pureed squash from the store. I won’t tell anyone! It costs a little more but it works just as well. Allow the frozen squash to thaw first.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Combine the milk and 3/4 cup of the squash puree in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture just barely to a simmer, remove from heat and stir in the cheddar and ricotta cheese, mustard and nutmeg.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and stir in the elbow macaroni and cook according to package directions.
Toss the drained macaroni in a large bowl with the cheese mixture. Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Stir together the Parmesan and Romano cheese with the panko and butter.
Sprinkle the panko-parmesan topping over the casserole and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
This is a great way to get your little ones to eat more veggies!