One of my favorite things on earth to eat is macaroni and cheese. Especially with bacon. Mmmmmm, bacon.
But considering I have high cholesterol and am trying to not gain weight, I know it’s not the best choice for me to actually consume it very often. Recently I was looking at the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and came across a lower calorie mac and cheese type recipe, so I thought I would give it a whirl.
What I like about this recipe is A. you use a little less pasta, so less carbs B. you add lots of vitamin A-rich butternut squash and C. there isn’t a ton of cheese so it’s lower in fat. Win-win!
This recipe includes reduced-sodium bacon as a topping but of course you could not use it, or use turkey bacon instead. I chose to do it this time with no bacon.
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
8 oz dried cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free milk
6 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
2 slices reduced-sodium bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 and lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine squash and 2 Tbsp. water. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stir, re-wrap then microwave for another 4 minutes or until squash is soft. Mash it and set it aside.
- Cook pasta according to instructions and drain. In a medium saucepan heat butter over medium-high heat. Then add mushrooms and green onions. Cook until tender or about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture. Cook and stir for a minute. Then add milk and 1/4 tsp. of both salt and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbling. Remove from heat, stir in squash. Then add pasta and gently fold to combine everything.
- Transfer half the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Add the remaining mixture and cheese. Top with bacon and/or additional green onions if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Each serving contain 334 calories, 12 grams fat, 39 mg cholesterol, 366 mg sodium, 42 grams carb, 3 grams fiber and 16 grams protein.
I used a slightly different pasta (corkscrew shaped) and didn’t use the bacon or green onions, so mine was probably less fat and calories than the full recipe. But I can see how adding these items would make it even more flavorful, so I probably will next time.
The fontina cheese made the dish special because it has a mildly sharp and nutty taste, and the squash makes it creamy and sweet.