As we draw closer to Halloween and deeper within fall we begin to be filled with all the nostalgia of pumpkin-spice latté’s and decadent comfort foods! One of America’s personal favorites being macaroni and cheese, its creamy, cheesy goodness unparalleled in many dishes. All that dairy and fat though can be a big blow to your health, to the sadness of those who love macaroni and cheese and find themselves yearning for it in fall.
What if I told you that you could still enjoy macaroni and cheese, because there was a way to make it beneficial to your health and even cut the number of calories it contains in half! Inspired by the spirit of the season I give you “Squash N’Mac’N’Cheese”!
This particular recipe does not cheat you out of having real cheese as it does use sharp cheddar cheese for its all original goodness, but unlike other mac’n’cheese recipes it halves the amount of overall cheese you would normally use by accounting for the other half with nutritional yeast! Combined with spinach (or broccoli), buttercup squash, and walnuts for crunchiness on top instead of breadcrumbs you have a fall comfort food which won’t pack on the pounds and has some health benefits!
Nutritional Yeast: A vegan’s best kept secret!
If you have ever wondered how those who don’t consume dairy, who remember what it was like to consume dairy, but don’t seem to be complaining anymore are able to do it nutritional yeast is how! An inactive yeast from —- which is described as having a cheesy, nutty taste and the ability to add creaminess to dishes!
Yes, and its “nutritional’ yeast which means it has a boost! Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B complex vitamins including “B12”!
Winter squashes are bundles of vitamins and minerals!
Squash is delicious and highly nutritious! Buttercup squash, is the particular squash of choice for this recipe, and when choosing one at the store look for one with a vibrancy of color which indicates a the amount of Vitamin A (the brighter the better!)! Additionally the fiber content in squash along with a plethora of minerals including: magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, niacin the list goes on!
Squash Mac N’Cheese
Ingredients: (Yield Serves 4, Adapted from a recipe by “The Healthy Foodie”)
- 300g whole wheat macaroni
- 1 large head broccoli, cut into florets (or 150g fresh baby spinach leaves)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 cups buttercup squash, cooked and mashed (feel free to sub any variety of squash, or even canned pumpkin puree)
- 2 cups unsweetened soy milk
- ½ cup 0% fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup Nutritional Food Yeast
- 2 tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 150g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- Firstly, Preheat oven to 375*F!
- Then cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package! (easy so far right?) When pasta is cooked, throw in broccoli florets (if using), let stand for 30 seconds and strain (We are lightly blanching them)!
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook until onion becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add squash, milk, yogurt, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, half the cheddar, paprika and nutmeg. Whisk delicately until mixture is smooth and creamy (bet you can’t wait for all the creamy goodness!)
- Stir in cooked pasta, broccoli or spinach leaves, and walnuts.
- Transfer to oven safe dish, sprinkle rest of cheddar cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden!
- Turn the oven broil and broil until cheese reaches your desired color! Enjoy! It may be a little hot, but it’s ready when you are!
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