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Macaroni and Cheese Healthy Cooking

Healthy Yet Delicious Macaroni and Cheese

My family loves macaroni and cheese, but I worry about all the fat and salt. I took matters into my own hands and developed a recipe that is both healthy and decadent. Try this recipe and you too can be a hero in the eyes of your family.

The whole wheat pasta has more staying power than regular pasta and is better for blood sugar levels. The cottage cheese and egg are high in protein. By using strongly flavored cheeses, less is needed, decreasing the fat. Stealthily sneaking in broccoli adds extra calcium while the tomato topping makes it festive. Butternut squash adds flavor and golden color. For convenience, substitute the fresh broccoli and squash for frozen.

Total overall prep and cook time is about one hour, especially if one is simultaneously helping youngsters with their homework. If you make it ahead and chill to cook later, use the oven instead of the broiler, 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about twenty minutes.

2 small, tender butternut squash, seeded and cut into cubes
1 14.5 oz. to 16 oz box of whole wheat elbow macaroni
olive oil
2 large bunches broccoli, cut into florets
brown onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
cup non fat sour cream
cup low fat, small curd cottage cheese
8 oz shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, (a little more if you like it really cheesy)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided, (use Romano or a Romano/Parmesan blend if you prefer)
3 to 4 large beefsteak tomatoes cut into inch slices
cup breadcrumbs
2 cups part-skim low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
pepper, paprika, and other seasonings of your preference

Cook the butternut squash, remove and discard the skin, mash and set aside. (Place in a covered glass casserole and microwave it for 20 30 minutes or use your favorite cooking method.)

About the onion: If you like a stronger onion flavor, cook it with the squash, or if you like milder flavor, drop it in the water with the pasta. If you prefer a pronounced onion flavor, add the raw chopped onion to the pasta mixture right after draining.

While the squash is cooking, start a pot of water to boil. Add the pasta to cook until just before al dente, (about a minute short of the recommended cook time,) and toss in the broccoli during the last 2 minutes. Drain.

Set the oven to “broil.”

In a small bowl, mix the egg, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and cup of the Parmesan or Romano cheese. Season to taste with pepper, spike, paprika, etc.

In a large bowl, mix the mashed butternut squash with the pasta, broccoli and onion. Stir the cheese mixture into the pasta mixture.

Pour it into an oiled 9″ by 14″ baking pan, and place in oven close to the broiler.

While the mac and cheese begins to heat, slice the tomatoes, and in a small bowl, mix the mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan or Romano cheese. Add some seasoning to taste.

Take the heated macaroni and cheese out of the broiler, (the cheese should be melted,) top with an even layer of tomato slices, and sprinkle the breadcrumb and mozzarella mixture on top. Make sure each tomato is well-covered.

Place under the broiler again for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs and cheese are brown on top and mixture is bubbly.

Serves 16 unless they are teenagers, in which case it will serve 2. The leftovers are divine.