A healthy twist on the comfort food classic, your entire family will love this baked mac and cheese with pumpkin.
Friends, if you saw how much pasta my 2-year-old consumed in 15 minutes you would think he had never tasted mac and cheese before.
Enough about that… this pasta dish is the bees knees. It is the best of both worlds: it satisfies your craving for warm and hearty comfort food but doesn’t leave you feeling like you just ate two sticks of butter. In fact, there is absolutely no butter in this dish at all. You can thank me the next time you’re in the fitting room trying on jeans. Here is how I turned this traditionally rich and caloric dish into a healthy, every-day type of luxury:
Eliminate White Pasta: By using whole wheat pasta instead of bleached white-flour pasta you not only add vitamins and nutrients but you incorporate protein and fiber which helps keep you satisfied. White pasta, on the other hand, is basically like eating pure sugar. We have ice cream for that.
Boost Nutrition with Pumpkin: Pure pumpkin not only adds a delicious, creamy texture but it is a low-calorie source of vitamins including Vitamin A, Potassium, Vitamin C, Iron, and Folate. Boom.
Swap Out Butter for Olive Oil:
Do you see that gorgeous, deep brown crust on that baby? Traditionally that is created by adding butter to the top of the bread crumbs before baking. Well, guess what? Olive oil accomplishes the same goal without the saturated fat and bad cholesterol that comes with butter. Added bonus: olive oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids that actually lower cholesterol.
What is your favorite comfort food dish? Are there any that you’d like to see lightened up? I’d love to hear from you.
Your fork is waiting.
Baked Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 12 oz whole wheat elbows cooked al dente
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar 2% reduced fat
- 1 cup pure pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon dijon
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt low fat
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and have a medium-sized casserole dish ready.
- Place prepared pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
- Add milk and flour to a medium sauce pot and continuously whisk over medium heat until it begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in shredded cheese, pumpkin, dijon, grated garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk mixture until cheese is melted and sauce thickens even further, about 5 more minutes.
- Pour pumpkin cheese sauce over the pasta in the bowl and mix until pasta is evenly coated. Stir in plain yogurt then pour entire mixture into baking dish.
- Sprinkle bread crumbs, parmesan and olive oil evenly on top of the pasta then bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until the contents bubble and the top forms a nice crust.