Healthy Mac n Cheese

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So I am a huge fan of Mac n Cheese but sadly I choose not to eat it often because of how unhealthy it is. So when I came across this recipe for a creamy, light Mac n Cheese in Cooking Light magazine I knew I had to try it. I was skeptical at first knowing that sometimes a creamy, heavy sauce can turn out horrible when made healthy. But I figured it was worth a shot and how bad could it be. Cooking Light had not let me down in the past so I hoped that it would do me well this time. So in order to cut down the calories and fat in this version of my go to comfort food they decided for the bechamel to use butternut squash. This combined with nonfat milk and Greek yogurt created a delicious sauce and the butternut squash gave the mac the color and creaminess of cheddar sauce. It then called for three cheeses to be mixed in to give it a strong bold flavor. I found that I would have actually used a little bit of cheddar next time as the three cheeses it called for tasted good but did not have a strong enough flavor for me personally. But the sauce itself was creamy and surprisingly delicious. I couldn’t believe that butternut squash really gave it a rich flavor and you would not even know that it was healthy. This was definitely a hit!

Serves 8 (serving size 1 1/3 cups)
3 cups of cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 lb squash)
1 1/4 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup (4 oz) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 lb uncooked cavatappi (or penne)
Cooking spray
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsely

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 min. Remove from heat.
3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender or food processor. Add salt, pepper and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a towel over opening in blender to avoid splatter. Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in bowl; stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano and 2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 19 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tbsps Parmigiano-Regiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.



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