How Not To Cook: Healthy Mac and Cheese?

In my family, my mom is always at work basically 12 hours a day, so when she goes grocery shopping she usually returns with frozen and boxed meals. One of my brother’s and my favorite boxed meal became kraft mac and cheese. Not the healthiest decision in the world, but we didn’t really care we were just really hungry.    One day, I was feeling really crafty, and decided to make my own homemade mac and cheese (we were just out of kraft mac and cheese). I didn’t bother looking up a recipe, because how could I mess up making mac and cheese? So I threw in some elbow pasta, then when that was done and drained I tossed in about two to three cups of cheese (the more the merrier) and probably way too much butter. Then I had realized I needed to improvise, considering we had no milk at our house. Of course, our weird family doesn’t have normal milk, but we have canned coconut milk in our cabinets. I used only a small amount of coconut milk, hoping that I didn’t just turn my mac and cheese into a pina colada. In the end, this was probably the most amazing creation I have ever made, yet I felt like I had just gained ten pounds in one sitting. So, when I was scrolling through a Pinch of Yum and discovered that Lindsay created a healthy mac and cheese, I had to read into it.

Honestly, the only change I really expected to make mac and cheese healthy would be to use wheat noodles, but Lindsay is more creative than that. Apparently, she previously made healthy mac and cheese with toasted walnuts and using other methods that I can’t even imagine. With this healthy mac and cheese although, she describes creating a pureed sauce to cover her somewhat healthy elbow pasta (use whole wheat or gluten-free, something). Unlike my homemade mac and cheese, where I relied on my creamy sauce to all be based off of cheese, Lindsay had other ideas. In her sauce, she included butternut squash, caramelized yellow onions, and even chicken/vegetable broth. Luckily, she still throws in cheese, but only a small amount, unlike my made-up recipe. After caramelizing the onions, Lindsay purees all the ingredients together for her sauce and pours it over her pasta. I have yet to try and attempt her recipe, but her innovation for mac and cheese proves there really isn’t an excuse to not eat at least a little bit healthier. There are so many ways to substitute foods, like the currently popular technique of using cauliflower as mashed potatoes. Sadly, I love potatoes too much to replace them, so I don’t think I will be attempting a recipe like that. Lindsay’s healthy mac and cheese only adds up to 350 calories in the end, which is almost unbelievable. By adding butternut squash, broth, and her caramelized onions, there’s less need for butter, cheese, and flour to be included in the recipe. Of course, it’s still included, but not overused and overpowering the recipe. Honestly, I’m slightly intimidated by the recipe, but anything to get that bikini body, right?

 

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