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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Healthier Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

A couple weeks ago I was indulging on some delish homemade baked mac n cheese at a birthday party. I chatted with the chef of this cheesy dinner. She told me "It's just Cream, two blocks of Cheddar and Butter"

yum. but, yikes. I can't indulge that way at home!

Around the Hartman house we are far from health nuts. We do, however, eat light and try hard to be healthy. I honestly do not think I have purchased sticks of real butter in 10+ years? Ok, I admit I did have two dairy allergic kids for 5 or so years. I do acredit some of our healthier meals to the food allergies, but something has to push us places we may not want to drive to right?

By the By, This morning I made my Own "Cheesy Noodles" (as my little ladies like to call em'). It is a household favorite and is really darn Great tasting, creamy, yummy, comfort food. here is my recipe:

3 Cups Fiber-Rich Macaroni. (I use Barilla Plus which also has Omega-3s)

6T Margarine
(I use Earth Balance, no hydrogenated oils)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
(I use Sea Salt)

3 1/2 cups Skim Milk
1lb White american Cheese
(I always get a good brand, and I do NOT use preslicedto me the taste is fake with pre sliced

preheat oven 350 degrees. Follow instructions on package to boil macaroni & drain, place in a 3Qt cassarole dish, I think a 9x13 pan could work but have not tried it myself, you may need to reduce baking time a bit with that.
Mix together Flour, pepper & salt. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over med heat (nonstick works easiest). Do not brown, just melt slowly. Add flour mixture, stir until thick. Add milk and continue heating on med/med high heat being sure not to boil. Stir frequently with a whisk until mixture thickens, about 10-20 minutes. At the beginning you can walk away without stirring for a min or two (like, say, to drain those boiling noodles!) but as it heats up you do have to stir it often to avoid a boil. Once it reaches a thick consistency, slowly add cheese a few slices at a time It'll melt VERY quickly, so this part will not take long. Once all cheese is melted into your pan pour it over the macaroni. stir if needed (usually it disperses evenly itself).
Bake Uncovered 1 hour.

I wish I had nutritional info for this, I have not quite figured that out just yet. I can say that using skim milk will save a bundle in fat, and the whole grain pasta is a bonus health-wise too. I have tried making this recipe with light cheddar as opposed to the american. It did not melt smoothly and did not stick to the pasta how I like my mac and cheese to. More importantly Ruby was not fond of it, and this is her all time favorite meal. Light american cheese is also sort of fake and plastic tasting to me so, I suppose it could be lighter but this is still quite an improvement from cream/butter and white flour pasta.

For More Lighter, Healthier versions of kid (and grown up!) favorites check out The Meal Makeover Moms. This link will take you to another winner of a pumpkin pasta recipe that is super fast and delicious!


Alicia said...

Thanks for sharing. I don't make mac n cheese because of how unhealthy it is, but I'll have to give this a try. Looks yummy.

Jen said...

thanks for commenting Alicia! It is yummy...I am guessing it's still high in sodium, but fat/saturated fat is lower than a normal version;)

Stratoz said...

Looks good, but got to say we just watched a 1962 Julia Child video and she used more cream in 25 minutes than I do in a year, and I too feel like indulging