Monday, July 19, 2010

Healthy Mac n' Cheese?

Can it be? Or is this just wishful thinking?

Besides, isn't it the point of mac n' cheese to be as decadently creamy and cheesy as possible?

I headed over to Bethenny's site (where else?) to get to the bottom of this— her Zesty, Cheesy Mac and Cheese intrigued me, so I gave it a shot.

Her original ingredients were slightly healthier than mine, but I wasn't going to purchase a whole carton of soy milk (which Amwilli doesn't drink), or a whole packet of monterey jack for only 2 tablespoons.

Her motto is always "work with what you have," and here's what I had on hand, not too bad, huh?:

1 cup milk over medium heat

1 cup shredded parm

In you go...

Now for the sharp cheddar...

Added some dry mustard, worcestershire, salt, pepper, then ohhh, unusual ingredient time... squash! Hah, take that macaroni— I infused you with a full serving of vegetables!

It looked like pretty normal cheese sauce. At this point I have to admit that I was a little afraid to taste.

All the while the whole wheat shells were boiling, so once they were al dente, I mixed them with the zesty cheese sauce, coated, and spooned into a casserole dish, topped with panko bread crumbs and more cheese. (Funny story about that dish— we received it from the bank when we opened our joint checking account because we mentioned we'd just gotten married. Talk about customer service!)

In the oven for a little over 20 minutes, then TA DA!

So... the Zesty, Cheesy Mac and Cheese was just that, zesty and oh-so-cheesy! The zestiness was from the chili powder the recipe called for. I just hit it with some Sriracha sauce, which is my go-to in chili situations.

This recipe is a keeper, but I would change a few things on my end. I'd use frozen butternut squash as the recipe listed (I couldn't find any), I think it would have made the texture slightly more creamy. I also would have cooked the shells longer, and kept the mac in until the top was golden brown— which is what I do for my normal gooey, super decadent mac n' cheese (post coming later this month). Lastly, I would leave out the bread crumbs... they're unnecessary— I think you get just the right amount of texture from the whole grain pasta.

This mac n' cheese was a wonderful side dish for our Dutch Market pulled pork sandwiches, and I can't wait to try it again with a few tweaks!

What makes it healthier:
♡ Whole grain pasta
♡ Reduced fat cheese
♡ SQUASH! (one full serving of veggies)
♡ Reduced fat or soy milk

Zesty, Cheesy Mac and Cheese: ✩✩✩ ½
*Amwilli-o-meter: 2 helpings

*I've introduced a new scale, although it may be flawed. My husband really enjoys food— and he doesn't like hurting my feelings, so he'll eat pretty much whatever I put in front of him. Hahah!


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