It’s pretty easy to be healthy during the summer. We’re wired physically and psychologically to crave cold, water-based foods when it’s hot, and warm, comfort foods when it’s cold. So when the sun is blazing, our appetite is suppressed, and we naturally reach for fresh fruit and salads; but as it goes away, the sweaters come on and our taste buds go in search of their good old friends, creams and carbs.
So naturally, fall and winter are full of the best comfort foods- cheesy breads, creamy soups, and warm pastries. These dishes might make us happy, but they make our bodies sad, because the ingredients that give them their comforting flavor are things like butter and cream, which aren’t good for our waistlines or our health. Luckily, with a handy-dandy meal makeover, there are a few simple changes that can take these dishes from only delicious to also nutritious…
We can all agree that mac & cheese is at the top of the comfort food list. Whether it’s mom’s homemade mac & cheese or straight out of a box, creamy cheese sauce mixed with pasta always hits the spot. In this simple, healthy version of mac & cheese, we only used 1 ½ Tablespoons of butter for the entire dish. Also, we used 1% milk instead of cream, whole-wheat pasta instead of regular, and added broccoli and cauliflower for extra hearty nutrients. By using sharp cheddar cheese, you can bring all of the flavor and half of the fat.
SKINNY MAC & CHEESE RECIPE
• 12 oz whole-wheat elbow pasta
• 1 1/2 tbsp butter
• 1/4 cup minced onion
• 1/4 cup flour
• 2 cups 1% milk
• 1 cup fat free chicken broth
• 8 oz (2 cups) reduced-fat sharp cheddar
• salt and fresh pepper to taste
• 12 oz bag fresh broccoli & cauliflower florets (or just broccoli)
• 2 tbsp grated parmesan
• 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
• cooking spray
Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions for al dente (slightly under cooked). Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter. Add onion and cook over medium heat about 2 minutes, add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add to cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more cooking spray on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.
Enjoy Skinny Mac and Cheese without the guilt!
Editor: Nicole Walker