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Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe -(Grain free, vegetarian and vegan versions included)

Here's a version of Mac and Cheese that keeps the comfort food aspects in but also improves the nutritional profile so that it can be healthy meal option.  This particular version freezes well, so to save some precious time, make a double or triple batch and freeze in individual glass containers for those times life is too crazy to cook from scratch.

Makes 4 servings
Ingredients
2 cups of butternut squash in approximately 1 inch cubes
2/3 cup low sodium chicken stock (preferably free range) - vegetarian or vegan use vegetable stock
3/4 cup milk (preferably from grass fed cows) - cut down or eliminate dairy with So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1 clove garlic - peeled
4 oz grass fed cheddar cheese like Kerrygold - vegan try Daiya cheddar style - grated
3/4 oz Romano or Parmesan cheese -grated - vegan skip and add another ounce of Daiya
8 oz Pasta - Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Penne or Tolerant Red Lentil Penne or Whole Wheat Pasta
2 - 3 oz Uncured Chorizo sausage - Vegan - skip and add a little bit of cayenne or red pepper flakes

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 Deg F.
2. Place butternut squash, stock, milk and garlic in sauce pan. Simmer uncovered until the squash is very tender - start checking at around 20 minutes.
3. Grate all of the cheeses.
4. Remove chorizo from casing and crumble into small pieces. Cook in a small heavy bottom skillet until crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
5. Prepare pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain when done, but don't rinse with cold water.
6. Once the squash mixture is done, either put in a blender or use an immersion blender (remove from heat first). Blend to smooth and return to saucepan.
7. Stir in all of the grated cheeses until melted.
8. Add in the chorizo bits and stir.
9. Place pasta in an 8 x 8 glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour sauce over the pasta and mix well.
10. Bake in the center rack of the oven for approximately 25 minutes until bubbly and turning brown around the edges.

Recipe Comparison
Nutritional Data calculated using - Pacific Free Range Low Sodium Chicken Broth, So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk, Kerry Gold Dubliner Cheese, Pecorino Romano Cheese, Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Pasta and a link of uncured chorizo from the local butcher

Healthy Version / Traditional Version - All Recipes Homemade Mac and Cheese
KCal - 433 / 858 KCal
Fat - 16g / 48.7g
Sat Fat - 10g / Not available
Trans Fat - 0 / Not available
Cholesterol - 45mg / 142mg
Sodium - 438 mg / 879mg
Total Carbs - 42g / 66.7g
Dietary Fiber - 8g / 3.4g
Sugars - 2g / 10.7g
Protein -27g / 37.7g

Why is it healthier?  

Lowered calories, fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar.

Higher fiber.

Using grass fed dairy helps to improve the nutritional quality of milk and cheese (if you are not doing the vegan version).

Free Range chicken stock has better nutritional quality than conventionally farmed chicken stock.

Moving away from processed white flour pasta provides more nutrition and fiber.

There is still much debate on if there is benefit to uncured vs cured meats.  The chorizo in this recipe is used as an accent, not a big quantity, but in general eating fewer chemicals in food is probably a better option when it's available.

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