Sunday, December 9, 2007

Eat Your Veggies: Butternut Mac N' Cheese!

Now this is yummy. Truly. If you like (or lust after) homemade macaroni and cheese, then this recipe is for you. Homemade mac n' cheese is a huge downfall for me. I LOVE it. I can eat the whole pan. Gooey, cheesy, starchy, comforting. Mmmm. A diet nightmare. But wait! What if you could add a nutritious, low calorie vegetable to your macaroni and not ruin the flavor? What if the veggie actually made the macaroni taste BETTER?? Impossible, you say? Read on.

I found this recipe on A Veggie Venture ( and changed it up a bit to be even healthier. It is healthier, in the first place, just because eating squash is healthier than eating mac n' cheese. Adding the squash displaces the mac, so you are actually eating much less of it, plus the great nutrition of a butternut squash. It LOOKS nice, because butternut squash is about the same color as cheddar cheese. It smells great. It tastes divine. My non-dieting, fat-loving husband (the one who takes all the fat off a roast and eats it) said that this macaroni was the best he has ever tasted! That's saying something... and I have to agree with him. I am a bit of a macaroni snob myself. Anyway, instead of regular macaroni noodles, I used Fiber Wise macaroni. It has some crazy fiber in it (12g per serving!!! crazy I tell you!) but it TASTES like normal macaroni! It is soft and noodley, not rough, brown and weird-textured like some whole wheat pastas are. In any event, if you can't find Fiber Wise, try and find a good high fiber pasta that you like, and use it in this recipe. Barilla Plus is great. I also used skim milk instead of whole. I used regular cheese, but I think it would be fine to replace half of the cheese with 2% Kraft reduced fat cheddar, which I will try next time. I used 12 oz instead of 16, and it was plenty cheesy. Here's the recipe.

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese

1 real big butternut squash, cut in half. Rub the cut sides with a bit of olive oil and roast at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 60-75 minutes, until very soft when poked with a fork. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Scoop out all the flesh from one half and put it in a BIG bowl. Break it up into smallish, bite sized chunks. It's fine if some of it ends up mashed. Save the other half for a different recipe.

8 oz macaroni. Cook this according to package directions in salted water. While it is cooking, make the sauce. Drain the pasta and put it in the bowl with the squash. Fold it together with a spatula, gently, until well combined.

1.5 T. butter
1 small onion, chopped small (I use a food processor)
1/2  tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. white pepper (black is fine, white is prettier)
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1.5 T. flour
1 c. skim milk
12 oz. cheddar cheese (I think sharp cheddar tastes by far the best)

Melt the butter on medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute til soft. Add nutmeg and white pepper. Add the flour, stir it up good, and then add the milk S-L-O-W-L-Y. I mean, add a little splash and stir it in, then a bit more, stirring each time, until it is all incorporated. Heat almost to the boiling point, stirring often. I used a whisk to keep it smooth. It will thicken a bit. Don't let it boil, or it might not stay smooth, but it will still taste fine. Take it off the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until melted. Taste and add some salt if you like. (I personally do think this recipe needs a bit of salt, but you decide).

Now, pour the sauce over the macaroni and squash. Stir it in gently with a spatula so it is well combined. Put this mixture into a 9 by 13 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Using my directions and Fiber Wise pasta, 1/12 of the dish has 207 calories and 9.8 grams of fat.
You start with this...

and end up with this:
It really is amazing. Try it! Happy, healthy eating!


Karen (aka Deadbudgee) said...

Please come to my house and cook that!!! It looks awesome!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. Will try it for sure. It looks delicious.

Heather said...

that sounds DELICIOUS! I have a version of homemade mac and cheese that I have been dying to try and this just mad eme want to try it right now!

auntie g said...

How do you just eat a 12th of that?! It looks deeee-licious!

Anonymous said...

Dang, that is a lot of cheese for someone who is trying to lose weight.

Lyn said...

Actually, Anonymous, it is only one ounce of cheese per serving. If you're concerned about the fat content you could try it with reduced fat sharp cheddar. Kraft makes a good one! Take care.

SKrapper Digitals said...

This looks AWESOME!! I can't wait to try it!! :-)

Anonymous said...

I just made this, and it was delicious. Thanks! I have one question though... it seemed like there was a fairly small amount of macaroni in comparison to the other ingredients -- it didn't look like your picture in terms of the ratio. Is it really only 8 oz of pasta? Perhaps there is a typo or you have another hint for me?


Lyn said...


Yes, it was 8 oz of DRY pasta (half of a one pound box). The only thing that might be variable is that for that picture I had a really, really BIG squash. If yours was smaller maybe there was not as much squash (most of the orange/yellow in the picture). I like it with lots of squash. You could try increasing the amount of squash a bit next time :)

Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous,

that's only 1 ounce of cheese per serving. Not a lot. And because of all the fiber, one portion is only 4 points! That is awesome. the hard part would be only having one portion! I'd put it in tupperware to separate it out. Thanks for the recipe, I'm trying it!

Anonymous said...

I just tried this recipe and it turned out great... It was good as I have never cooked butternut squash and I was actually quite intimidated by them....Now I know, and they are delicious!

superpaige said...

i JUST found this recipe and think I must make it tomorrow. Yum.

rachel said...

I have a butternut squash sitting on my counter and I was wondering what to make with it. Then I remembered you and thought that you had mentioned a recipe or two on here... I was looking for the one with the chunks and the cheese.. or the soup (wasnt there a soup??) but when I came across this recipe, I knew. I will be making this tomorrow for my 2 year old and myself for supper. If he eats it I will be forever in awe of your powers. LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn! I made this tonight, and it was sooooo good!! Displacing all that pasta and cheese with a healthy veggie is a brilliant idea. I also made your cabbage roll casserole which was also amazing. Keep the good ideas coming!

Anonymous said...

I made this today according to your directions and it was outstanding. Really, really tasty. I like things a little spicy so I sprinkled some crushed red pepper on it. I loved this. Next time, I think I'll fold in some rough chopped tomatoes before I add the cheese sauce to the squash and pasta. Thank you for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Hello Lyn,

I stumbled accross your weightloss blog, and I have to say - well done, girl!

I look forward to making all those yummy recipes. Just hope I can find all the right ingredients as I live in the Middle East.

Well done for escaping the fat-prison (cells).

Anonymous said...

Hello, I know this is an older post, but I am wondering how this fits into TSFL (Medifast)? I thought that was the Weight loss program you are on? I love love butternut squash and actually am growing it in my garden right now! It should be ready in a couple weeks! I would love to be able to make this on TSFL (Medifast)!!!

Lyn said...


No, this is not a Medifast friendly recipe. I only started Medifast in March 2010, so anything prior to that is from when I was calorie counting (which helped me lose 64 pounds).

Melody said...

Okay Lyn I am going to give this a try based on the fact that your blog is amazing and all your ideas are wonderful. I do not like squash normally, too sweet for me. We all love Mac & Cheese in this house though so I would love to have a healthier option. Thanks for the recipe.

Alison said...

I just made this last night [I realize I'm like 4 years behind the ball] and it was amazing!!! Hubby loved it too.