Healthy Macaroni and Cheese

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!


Dinner, Side Dish, Vegetarian, Veggies , , , , , , , , ,


  1. OMG! You won’t believe this but this was going to be one of my “Coming up soon” recipes!!! I even bought a packet of the blue and orange “Mac and Cheese” just to compare the actual ingredients that go into it against my wholesome version. I like the inclusion of veg into it too :-)

  2. This is such a wonderful edition to the classic Mac n’ Cheese dish! Sounds delish!

  3. Jenni

    I made one like this with baby food pureed squash. My husband loved it, he had no idea there were veggies in it :)

  4. Great recipe. I really like the bread crumbs on top. We’ve made the cauliflower mac & cheese, which is really good as well.

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  5. Oooh this sounds great and I love that it’s a lighter version without sacrificing too much flavor. I’m bookmarking this now and I can’t wait to try it!

  6. i love a good recipe for macaroni & cheese, especially if it doesn’t make me feel guilty after devouring it. thanks for sharing!

  7. The squash and ricotta in this sounds fantastic!

  8. That looks so wonderful and creamy! I cannot wait to try this.

  9. The day has come, my dreams have come true! haha This looks great, I love the addition of the squash. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Harper

    Delish! I roasted the squash and I was shocked how it completely dissolves in the milk and it gave such a nice sweet taste to the mac n cheese. It’s creamy and super tasty. My daughter isn’t a fan of noodles (how is this possible?) but she seems to enjoy this. Very tasty and really quite simple to make as I did the squash on convenction so it baked/roasted faster and I got everything else ready while it was baking/roasting. yum again!

  11. We have been eating something similar for about 2 years now and love it! The squash gives the mac n cheese a slightly sweet taste and that brighter orange color that seems to be synonymous with this comfort food. Butternut squash is also good in turkey meatballs and can be mixed with shredded cheese for deliciously creamy (and healthy) grilled cheese sandwiches:)

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  13. Danielle

    I was just wondering if maybe you could cut the milk out and add non-fat greek yogurt to cut even more fat and calories out and still have the creaminess?! Let me know if anyone’s tried it.

    • Whitney

      Oh, I bet you can. I’ve never done that in this recipe but I have used Greek yogurt in other pasta dishes and the flavor and texture was wonderful. Let me know how it turns out for you! :)

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