No, really. I mean it. Healthy Mac and Cheeeeeese.
Like mac and cheese that is healthy. Noodles with sauce that will secretly give you vegetables. Creamy sauce without boatloads of butter and flour. Favorite comfort food that packs a little nutrition.
Backing up, though. It’s getting to that time of year when WINTER IS TOO COLD. I say that with a massive amount of guilt as I recall the many times that I begged the weather gods to send a polar vortex to the Philippines last year. But we’ll leave that in the past. This is the now, and right now, I’m done being cold.
Also please add this to the list of things I’m done with: having a cold. The bad news is it will not be done with me. Like, come on already justgetoutofhere. And to make matters all the more winter-dramatic, as I was writing this I just used the last Kleenex in the house and sent Bjork a panicked text to please pick up some Kleenex right now. SOS ASAP OMG haaaalp.
When I have a cold//when it is cold outside//when both happen at the same time//all year round any time no matter what, I like to ease my soul with foods like healthy macaroni and cheese.
I’ve been making variations of this recipe for the last few years, but always with extra stuff in it, because, you know, the whole food blog thing.
At the moment, I’m getting sort of annoyed of my toasted-walnuts-in mac-and-cheese ways, so I’m giving it to you straight up, in all it’s plain creamy wonderfulness: Healthy Mac and Cheese. No need to fancify. Especially if you’re sick. Which, if you are, please just come over and we’ll eat this and watch the Cesar Milan being the amazing Dog Whisperer and feel glad that just have colds and not red zone dogs. Truth: Netflix and a cold and me left alone for too long can bring out some weird times.
This healthy mac and cheese is perfect for times when you don’t want anything really far outside of the box. Like, literally, nothing too far from the powdered cheese noodle dinner that comes in a blue box. Just maybe a little healthier and homemade. And more vegetables and less butter. Bonus.
If that’s you (and if you can’t tell, it’s definitely me right now), then this is your stuff.
One of my favorite things about this saucy + healthy mac and cheese is the inclusion of a caramelized onion in the pureed sauce. The flavor gets a warm depth to it without the issue of the caramelized onion pieces floating around in there. Heeey now, don’t look at me like that. Because normally I love things like pieces of caramelized onion and maybe when this cold leaves me alone I’ll be back to that sort of bold, dangerous eating. But this is the day where we’re sticking to plain-Jane. No messing around with texture. Just smooth delicious sauce, creamy melted cheese, and noodles to bring it all together.
So if I were to have a bottom line here, it would be this –> make the sauce, cook some noodles, shred some cheese, and be a happy mac and cheese eating person who still fits into a swimsuit. Because summer is coming. I can feel the sun on my face right now. Ready? Here it comes. One two three now. Three two one summer. Ready set go. Sun. Come. Bam. Snap. Poof.
Just… I’ll work on that.
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni – whole wheat, low glycemic, gluten free… any will work!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 small butternut squash (4-5 cups cubed)
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup shredded cheese – I like Gruyère but any kind will work
- parsley for topping
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cut the onion into thin rings and add to the butter in the pan, sauteing over low heat until fragrant and golden, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove the skin and the seeds from the squash. Cut the flesh into small cubes. Bring the broth to a boil and add the squash. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup broth, and transfer squash to the blender. Add the onions, milk, salt, and reserved broth and puree until completely smooth and creamy. This should yield about 4 cups sauce.
- Pour the pureed sauce over the cooked noodles and add the shredded cheese. Stir to melt the cheese; add water or milk to adjust consistency as needed. Serve with parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.