Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Cooking With J & J was recently asked to share a recipe for a healthy version of Macaroni and Cheese. To be honest we're not so sure a healthy recipe is possible. Yummy? Definitely! Better for you than processed box Mac n Cheese? Yep. But healthy....we're not quite sure about that.

We both agreed that Mac n Cheese isn't the most healthy meal.... hey now, no crying, we have some good news. You didn't think we'd leave you hanging like that, now did you? We have some fat trimming 'healthy' recommendations for you.

Drum roll please..............

Instead of making Mac and Cheese your main dish, why not consider it a side?

"What? What's so good about that?" you ask.

Good question. Keep reading, we'll tell you.

One thing we've learned over the years is that if you add more of the 'healthy' stuff (salads and veggies) to your plate, and make it a rule to eat those foods first, then you will naturally decrease your portions of the 'not so healthy' stuff. Well? Whadya think? Not bad huh?

With this strategy you will be doing two excellent things for your health: A) minimizing the amount of fat you ingest from the dairy products included in your recipes - which consequently, is what most of us are concerned with, and B) increasing the amount of nutrient rich foods in your diet. Ok, there is a third thing too. You get to eat things you like and not feel so bad. That's really a win-win situation, don't you think?

Now that we got the 'health' talk out of the way, let's get to the recipe. Be sure to notice that we do use soy milk and Earth Balance to replace cow's milk and butter. This alone will help to cut down some of the fat. This Mac n Cheese sure is delicious!

This homemade recipe is a combination of several different recipes we have used over the years, and it yields this amazing version:

12 oz Penne pasta

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Cheese sauce recipe follows

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter using Earth Balance a 9x13 baking dish.

Cook Penne 2 minutes less than directions on the package, it will finish cooking in the oven. Rinse pasta with cold water and set aside.

Combine cooked pasta with cheese sauce (recipe to follow) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

1/4 cup Earth Balance or non-dairy butter substitute
1/3 cup flour

3 cups of soy milk

3 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup jack cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt

2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed

Melt Earth Balance or butter replacement in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue whisking for 2 minutes. Slowly add soy milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, be patient this may take a while, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese, salt and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted and all the ingredients are mixed well, about 2-3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

**For an added crunch, add whole grain flakes to the top of the macaroni before baking.

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