When it comes to comfort foods, macaroni and cheese pleases kids and adults alike.
The Urban Dictionary defines comfort food as “food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it, these tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association.”
Macaroni and cheese was a lunch time staple when I was growing up. And when I was raising my kids, there was always a box of Kraft mac and cheese in the cupboard for a quick fix meal.
I can see why it’s considered a comfort food, if you agree with the Urban Dictionary’s definition.
The combination of a cheesy sauce and pasta seems to please everyone’s palate, so when I had extra time, I’d make my macaroni and cheese from scratch.
The problem with this cheesy comfort food is that it can be calorie heavy. Not a problem if you were my kids back in the day, with plenty of energy to burn those calories off. But I can’t say at age 54 I have that same metabolism.
Thus the need to slenderize this go-to comfort food pasta dish, with the same methods I use for all my pasta recipes.
I lighten up the sauce using low fat versions of milk and cheese, then skip traditional pasta in favor of whole grain pasta.
When you’re using low fat versions of cheese it’s best to opt for cheeses with big flavor. In this case I used a sharp cheddar.
Never use fat free cheese thinking you’ll save fat and calories. It doesn’t melt well, and tastes like plastic. Your family will never touch your macaroni and cheese again.
I topped my slenderized pasta dish with a crumble of panko bread crumbs and a little extra cheese to give it color and texture.
I love that crunch on top!
Doesn’t this look like a dish of comfort in the form of pasta and cheese?
Before I head off to the dentist for a root canal this morning (thus the need for comfort food), I have a sauce making tip for you.
Cheese sauces can be tricky. If your sauce seems too thin after you bring it to a boil, combine one tablespoon of flour with two tablespoons of water until smooth. Remove the sauce from the heat, and whisk in the flour mixture. Bring it back to a boil, and it should thicken up.
If your sauce is too thick, add a drizzle of milk until it’s the desired consistency. I prefer a bit thinner sauce, and lots of it, as the pasta tends to soak it up.
That’s all for today. I’m off to the dentist for my third, or is it fourth? root canal.
You won't miss the extra calories when you taste this slenderized version of the classic macaroni and cheese.
10 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
- 6 oz elbow whole grain macaroni
- 3 cups low fat milk
- 4 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 cups low fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions until just tender. It should still have some firmness to it as it's going to finish baking in the oven. Drain macaroni in a colander.
- Whisk milk, flour, paprika, garlic, and cayenne pepper together in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly until it thickens - about 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 cup shredded cheese and stir to combine.
- Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon macaroni into ramekins, or an 8 x 8 baking dish, lightly coated with cooking spray.
- Combine panko bread crumbs and remaining 1/2 cup cheese in a small bowl.
- Top macaroni with panko mixture, the bake for 30 - 35 minutes until bubbly and top is lightly browned.
Food energy: 357kcal
Weigth Watchers PointsPlus 9
Saturated fatty acids: 3.20g
Monounsaturated fatty acids: 1.57g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 0.72g
Total fat: 5.48g
Calories from fat: 49
Carbohydrate, by difference: 53.82g
Total dietary fiber: 4.98g
Total lipid (fat): 5.99g
Total sugars: 9.84g
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