Winter squash is good for us.
We love our mac and cheese.
Dietician Kristina Adams put the two together and created a family-friendly, fall recipe she calls Squashed Mac 'n' cheese. And check out the health benefits:
The butternut squash adds fiber, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight cancer and control weight. And if you lightly toast the seeds, you’ve got a great snack food, she says.
Squashed Mac ’n’ cheese
One-half box (8-ounce) enhanced elbow macaroni (such as Ronzoni Smart Taste) or whole wheat macaroni
2 cups butternut squash, diced
1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup skim milk
**(alternate recipe: use 1 box V8 Butternut Squash Soup (2 cups) in place of squash,
milk and broth)
1 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup 2% milk cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded (can substitute Swiss cheese)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup Panko Japanese style breadcrumbs or plain breadcrumbs
1. Cook pasta as directed on box.
2. In a large cooking pot, bring squash, milk and broth to a low boil; simmer for 7 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat and puree mixture in pan with immersion blender. Or remove from heat and blend until smooth in blender and add back to pot (caution when blending while hot). **Alternate recipe: heat V8 Butternut squash soup in cooking pot until hot.
3. Slowly incorporate shredded cheeses into hot puree (or soup) and add seasonings. Add the cooked pasta to the melted cheese mixture.
4. Divide and portion 8 ways in ramekins, oven safe dishes or aluminum pie tins coated with cooking spray.
5. Top with a light dusting of breadcrumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Nutrition per serving: 159 calories, 2.7 g fat, 225 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 14 g protein, 22.8 g carbohydrates
Kristina Adams is director of medical weight management at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System, Mattoon, and spokeswoman for the Illinois Dietetic Association.