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A Healthful Twist on Mac ’n’ Cheese

Healthful Mac 'n' Cheese!

There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned bowlful of noodles and cheese. However, as delicious and comforting as mac ’n’ cheese can be, the calories and fat can bring on the guilty vibes for anyone trying to eat a more healthful diet. Try some of these tips to make your dishes lighter without substituting in low-fat cheeses or cutting down the amount of cheese in the dish. It turns out you can have your cheese and eat it too.

Forgo the bread crumbs

Many classic mac ’n’ cheese recipes have bread crumbs baked as a crust on top of your pasta. However, one easy way to cut some of the carbs from the recipe is to cut out the bread crumbs. If you don’t want to forgo a delicious crust altogether, try broccoli instead. This veggie topping gives you some of your daily allotted nutrition while maintaining the cheesy goodness underneath. Of course, if you don’t like broccoli, you’re welcome to cut out the bread crumbs completely.

Substitute in low-fat milk

Whole milk is tasty. But so is Gruyère and sharp cheddar. One easy way to take a regular mac ’n’ cheese recipe and substitute in low-fat milk for the recommended whole milk. In this three cheese dish from Farmstead’s Cheesemonger, the taste will all still be there. Promise.

Use butternut squash or pumpkin

Butternut squash is one way to add some creaminess and richness to the dish without smothering it in some kind of fatty sauce. Same goes with a nice pumpkin puree. Like the broccoli tip above, adding squash or pumpkin to your dish provides you some recommended veggies but also makes the whole meal heartier without taking away from the taste.

Try Greek yogurt and flour

When looking for light mac ’n’ cheese recipes, you will come across Greek yogurt again and again. It will give you the creamy fullness of the dish but with less calories than a sauce. In addition, flour is a good way to thicken the dish when mixed with a low-fat milk. Beecher’s World’s Best Mac ’n’ Cheese, for instance, uses flour instead of going for a high-calorie cream sauce.

Tweak existing recipes

You don’t have to go out of your way to locate recipes on health food sites. If there’s a classic dish you enjoy, try making some changes to it on your own to make it a little healthier. There’s no reason you have to give up what you already enjoy. Take this Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Low-fat milk to replace the whole milk, cut back on the bread crumbs and bacon, maybe replace some of the butter with squash.

Also, if you do find a healthful recipe that you like but it calls for reduced-fat cheese? You can always substitute in a little bit of extra fat too. Have any other tips for slightly lighter mac n’ cheese that still hits the spot? Share them with us!

Photo credit: Eat Yourself Skinny

Gabrielle Roman

Gabrielle Roman is earning her Master's in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College in Boston. She is originally from Kansas City and misses the BBQ but the Thai food is good consolation. Her favorite hobby is cuddling with her puppy.

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