On Your Health

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Oklahoma Favorite Foods Made Healthier: Mac and Cheese

Welcome to another entry in our “Oklahoma Favorite Foods Made Healthier” series, where we tweak some of Oklahoma’s favorite comfort foods so you can enjoy them in a guilt-free, better-for-you way. You’ll still get the great flavor that made the foods favorites in the first place, but limit the parts (like grease, lard, bad fats and refined sugar) that aren’t so healthy.

Small changes like the tweaks found in these recipes can eventually produce big results and will help you build momentum to establish other healthy food habits.

So, without further ado, here is our take on healthier mac and cheese, courtesy of Weight Watchers. The recipe’s main tweak? Pureed cauliflower and carrots add wonderful creaminess to the sauce in this lightened up version of mac and cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp salted butter
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs pgrated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 head uncooked cauliflower (2 lbs)
  • 4 medium uncooked carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1⁄4 cup low fat cream cheese
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1⁄2 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese, sharp variety recommended, divided
  • 1 1⁄2 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 8 oz uncooked macaroni
  • 2 sprays cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring a large saucepot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; add panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, 4 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and let cool; stir in Pecorino and set aside.
  3. Cut 3 cups small florets from cauliflower; set aside. Cut remaining cauliflower (including stem) into 2-inch pieces. Add cauliflower pieces and carrots to boiling water; cook until very tender, 10–12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine broth, cream cheese, mustard, 1/4 c cheddar, Gruyère, salt and pepper sauce in a large blender. With a large slotted spoon, transfer cooked vegetables to blender; puree into a creamy sauce.
  5. Add pasta to same pot of boiling water; cook half the time of package directions, adding reserved cauliflower florets during last minute of cooking. Drain pasta and cauliflower; return to pot and stir in pureed sauce.
  6. Coat a 2 1/2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray; spoon pasta mixture into prepared pan in an even layer. Sprinkle dish with remaining 1/4 c cheddar and reserved crumb mixture; bake until golden on top, 25–30 minutes.

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