Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Whether you’re 5 or 50, macaroni and cheese is definitely one of the ultimate comfort foods. While all that warm and creamy cheesiness conjures up childhood memories of rainy day lunches, most mac and cheese recipes are pretty high in fat and calories.
This version uses a few smart ingredient switch-ups to reduce the fat while keeping all of the delicious creamy cheesiness intact! It also adds some chicken for protein and broccoli to add some extra fiber, volume and tons of nutrition.
I have always preferred homestyle, oven-baked macaroni and cheese – creamy on the inside with a crunchy topping. This recipe delivers and the whole family will love it!
- 2 cups raw chopped broccoli florets
- 1 chopped onion
- 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons of butter, divided
- 1 13.25 oz. box of whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 1 and 1/2 cups chopped grilled or roasted chicken breast
- 1 cup butternut squash or pumpkin puree (canned works fine)
- 1 cup 1% fat milk
- 1/2 cup part skim ricotta
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of onion powder
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 2-3 pinches of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 and 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoon of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt 1 teaspoon of butter. Add chopped onion and allow to cook until tender. Add garlic and cook for another minute until tender. Add chopped broccoli and toss. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes until broccoli is bright green. Set aside.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Cook elbow pasta to instructions (I prefer al dente, or slightly firm pasta, which usually takes 6-7 minutes to cook). Pour into a colander and allow pasta to drain.
In a saucepan, melt remaining 1 teaspoon of butter with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add squash/pumpkin puree, milk, and ricotta and whisk until smooth and without lumps. Add onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, paprika, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Turn heat to low and whisk in flour until dissolved and mixture begins to thicken slightly. Fold shredded cheese into mixture and allow it to melt completely before turning off the heat and setting aside.
In a large bowl, combine vegetables with macaroni, cheese mixture and chicken. Toss very well to incorporate and coat all ingredients. Pour into baking dish. In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs with parmesan and parsley. Sprinkle evenly over macaroni. Carefully spray a light misting of olive oil spray over the crumbs before placing the baking dish in the oven and baking for 30-35 minutes until topping turns light golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.
Nutrition Information | Makes 10 servings, 1 and 1/2 cup each
311 calories, 8.2g fat, 41.2g carbs, 5.6g fiber, 22.1g protein
8 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving