Pizza at least has some tomato sauce, a burger has lettuce, tomatoes and it’s served with fries on the side, a hot-dog has relish and onions (that’s some veggies, ain’t it?) Mac & Cheese is just carbs and dairy fats, that’s about it.
No wonder Mac & Cheese never makes it to the healthy food list.
Too bad, because we all had our moments with a steaming hot bowl of Mac & Cheese (I’m thinking college after party...anyone?).
In other words, completely renouncing to Mac & Cheese makes life a little more miserable, certainly less tasty. I don’t know about you, but I still need/want Mac & Cheese in my life.
To achieve that there’s no other way besides tweaking the recipe and making it healthier.
That’s what I did; there’s still cheese, a bit of milk, and a pat of butter. The rest is pumpkin puree and whole wheat pasta. You won’t regret a “regular” Mac & Cheese, I promise.
I won’t go as far as trying to tell you that this M&C is as healthy as a raw kale salad; but this is a pretty low calorie dish filled with fibers and pumpkin’s precious nutrients.
All in all, the healthiest Mac & Cheese you can dig your spoon in!
½ lb / 225 gr whole wheat macaroni (elbows, rotini, or any other short shape)
2 cups / 15.5 oz / 350 gr pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons milk
1 pat butter
½ cup / 40 gr grated dubliner or other sharp cheese
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 tablespoons whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C), place a rack in the middle. Lightly grease a 8x8-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a saucepan over very low heat, melt the cheese with the butter and milk, stirring constantly. Add pumpkin puree and stir until you reach the consistency of a smooth orange/yellowish creamy sauce.
Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions, drain it, pour into the pumpkin cheese sauce and mix well.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and maybe some freshly ground pepper.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and pasta is bubbly. If the tops are browning too quickly, cover the pans with foil.
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
One serving yields 250 calories, 5.4 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbs and 10.8 grams of protein.