Super Healthy Mac and Cheese

by admin on March 16, 2012

Super Healthy Mac and Cheese

written by: Judee Rallos

Life with a FoodSaver® vacuum sealer has been markedly easier ever since I got it from a friend as a gift a few years ago. With the use of Foodsaver® recipes, I have been able to balance my life at home and at work with more poise and panache. I cook in bulk once or twice in a month and for the rest of the time, I get to attend to the demands of my job.

Envision this: A successful career + delicious home cooked dinners = pure happiness. I mean, what’s not to love about that?

For today, I will be sharing with all of you an all-time favorite recipe that we all know and love. It’s one of my best and most reliable foodsaver recipes, it’s also great when cooked and served immediately. Yes, there’s nothing new about mac and cheese. At first glance, my version may look like your usual mac and cheese but it’s really not because it’s much healthier! It is high in fiber which is important for healthy digestion and low in fat and cholesterol which is perfect for the weight-conscious dieter and the health-conscious homemaker. What’s more, it’s also high in calcium which is necessary for the optimal health of the bones and teeth.

 

Super Healthy Mac and Cheese

(Note: This recipe can serve 4 people. If you are going to eat some of it and freeze the rest, you may want to double or triple the quantities of the ingredients. This recipe is just so delicious; you may not have left overs for freezing if you don’t make a lot!)

 

INGREDIENTS

8 oz. or about 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. plain dry breadcrumbs
16 oz. frozen spinach
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 3/4 cups low-fat milk
2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (grated)
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. salt

 

PREPARATION

The first thing to do is fill a large pot with water and to let it boil. Cook the macaroni pasta for about 4 minutes in boiling water or until the pasta is not quite tender or fully cooked. (Since we will be baking it, we don’t want to make it tender and ready for eating.) With the use of a strainer, drain excess water from the pasta and set aside.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease the baking dish with some cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix oil, paprika and breadcrumbs. Prepare the spinach by pressing out excess moisture with the use of a fine-mesh strainer.

Heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk over medium-high heat in a large heavy saucepan until it steams. Then whisk the rest of the milk (1/4 cup) and the flour in a bowl until it takes on a smooth consistency and add onto the hot milk in the saucepan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes making sure to constantly whisk the mixture until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and mix in the grated cheddar cheese until it’s fully melted. Add in the nutmeg, cottage cheese, salt and pepper to complete the cheese sauce and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.

Pour the cheese sauce onto the bowl of half-cooked macaroni pasta and mix well. Assemble half of the pasta onto the baking dish and spoon some spinach on top; then add another layer of pasta by pouring the rest of the macaroni on top of the spinach. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Bake the macaroni in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until it’s bubbly and golden.

 

Freezing tip:

You can prepare the dish with the half cooked pasta mixed with the cheese sauce minus the step where you assemble it on the baking dish and bake it for immediate serving. Instead, what you can do is to freeze it on a vacuum sealed bag and you can store it for up to 3 months. When you want to eat it already, all you need to do is to thaw it in the refrigerator compartment and then you can bake it for about 25 to 35 minutes until it’s done.

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