Sticking to a healthy diet does not have to mean living a life without mac and cheese! We asked our culinary team to create a rich and creamy macaroni and cheese casserole that would taste as good as the original, but wouldn’t wreck your diet… and it had to be something kids would love to eat. What they came up with was even more delicious than we imagined. It has less than 300 calories per serving and 15 grams of protein! The recipe makes 10 servings, so it can feed a hungry family or make several servings for healthy meal prep.
This recipe boasts two types of cheese – yes, real cheese! – sharp cheddar and Gruyere. The secret is using extra-flavorful cheeses, so a little bit goes a long way. They blend with a silky butternut squash puree to create an intensely flavorful sauce. We added peppers, onions, and a sprinkling of parsley to make the dish even more tasty and nutritious.
Total Time: 1 hr. 16 min.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 61 min.
Yield: 10 servings, about 1½ cups each
1 lb. dry whole wheat macaroni
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
3 cups cubed butternut squash
1¾ cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
2 Tbsp. low-fat (1%) plain Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Sea salt and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
Finely chopped fresh parsley (for garnish; optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Add onion and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Set aside.
5. Combine squash, broth, and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; gently boil for 22 to 25 minutes, or until squash is tender.
6. Place squash mixture in a blender or food processor; cover with lid and kitchen towel. Blend until smooth.
7. Combine squash mixture, macaroni, onion mixture, yogurt, and cheeses. Season with salt and pepper if desired; mix well.
8. Place macaroni mixture in a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish that has been coated with spray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling.
9. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Tip: Blend small batches of hot liquids in blender or food processor since they expand during the blending process, therefore decreasing the chance of overflowing.