There is no such thing as healthy mac and cheese. But there are ways to make it contain a higher nutritional value. Instead of the normal white flour noodles with high fat milk and high salt cheese, you can substitute many of those ingredients to lower the fat, lower the salt, increase the fiber and vitamins. This recipe does just that! The inspiration for this recipe comes from Martha Stewart’s website. But of course I have added my own flair. You can add tons of veggies to this too. Next time I will add chunks of roasted butternut squash and slices of yellow squash. Even the picky eaters at our BBQ, where this was served, loved it! They had no idea it was a bit healthier.
1 can (15 ounces) pureed butternut squash or pumpkin
2 cups nonfat milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole wheat penne
4 cups low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese
1/4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
3 tbsp bacon bits
Olive-oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
In a food processor, process the cottage cheese and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese. Just until the cottage cheese resembles a smaller curd.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add noodles; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in cheese mixture and cottage cheese mixture.
Lightly coat a 9-inch-square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. Sprinkle with bacon bits and the remaining parmesan cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 20-23 minutes more. Serve immediately.