Friday, February 24

Healthy Mac and Cheese .....can we?

A Fitnessmom fan asked about "Healthy mac and cheese"....I knew I have heard of many recipes for this comfort dish, but never really dove into it.  If and when I make this here at the house (rarely) I stick with the good old familly recipe that I grew up on.  So, I did some work and research on this coming up with some pretty tasty ideas.

Nonstick cooking spray
4 ounces whole wheat macaroni
1/2 cup onion-garlic puree
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar
1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mist an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set it aside.
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions, drain.
  2. Meanwhile, bring onion-garlic puree, mustard, and cayenne to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in cheddar until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the macaroni with the cheese sauce. Season with salt to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle panko over the top. Top with Parmesan.
  4. Bake until Parmesan is melted and macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes.
  5. Nutrition facts per serving (about 2/3 cup): 237 calories, 17g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 7g fat (4g saturated), 3g fiber
Here is a tip from Chef Rocco DiSpirito....this is in place of the traditional milk, butter and flour mix...
Bechamel sauce (a mixture of milk, butter, and flour) plays a starring role in traditional mac and cheese recipes. DiSpirito uses this aromatic blend of onion and garlic to build flavor and texture without fat (makes 1 cup).
Step 1
Combine 1 large Vidalia onion, 9 garlic cloves (roughly chopped), and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 2
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high 10 minutes.
Step 3
Pour the mixture into a blender; blend until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. (Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 72 hours.)
Another version of healthy mac and cheese
1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1⁄2 c whole-wheat macaroni
2 whole cloves
1⁄2 small onion
2 c nonfat milk
1 bay leaf
2 T unsalted butter
2 T all-purpose flour
3⁄4 c grated Gruyére, divided
2 t chopped chives
1 t red pepper sauce
1 t grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 425°F. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook cauliflower for 2 minutes. Remove and plunge in ice water; drain. Keep water boiling and cook macaroni until al dente; drain and set aside. While pasta cooks, press cloves into onion and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a medium-size pot over medium heat, bring milk and bay leaf to a simmer with clove-studded onion. In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Mix in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove bay leaf and onion, then whisk milk into flour mixture; cook for 10 minutes more or until mixture comes to a simmer.

Add half the Gruyére; pass mixture through a fine sieve. Add chives, red pepper sauce, and nutmeg. Add salt, pepper, and Worcestershire to taste.

Spread macaroni and cauliflower evenly in a 12- by 10-inch ovenproof dish, pour sauce over both, and sprinkle with remaining Gruyére. Bake for 20 minutes.

(1 1/2 cups): 267 calories
14 g fat (45% of calories)
8 g saturated fat
24 g carbs
14 g protein
3 g fiber
395 mg calcium
1 mg iron
159 mg sodium

Every thing can be modified....less salt, watch the cheese, etc.....but these are a few "healthier" versions.

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