#SundayCookingAdventures: Lighter Mac and cheese

2014-09-20 18.43.03

LIghter mac and cheese

In my search for low-calorie sides for the holidays, I ran across this one in the current issue of Cooking Light Magazine, October 2014. Macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes EVERYONE asks for at Christmas and Thanksgiving. It tastes great but cheese is high in sodium and saturated fat, so if you’re eating large spoonfuls of it, it can do some serious damage to anyone watching their health — or not.

This recipe uses microwave roasted garlic that lends a very delicate flavor to the dish. The original recipe called for full-fat cheddar cheese. I took it a step further and used reduced fat cheddar cheese and skim milk. I also omitted the salt. The dish wasn’t bad, but I think if I bring it back for the holidays I will go ahead and add the little bit of extra fat in the 1% milk and cheddar. Without those ingredients and no salt, you get the creamy texture, but you do lose some of the flavor.

Make sure your milk mixture is thick.

Make sure your milk mixture is thick.

But if you’re on a severely restricted diet for health reasons — cooking the recipe as listed may work for you. You get the taste of the cheese without the high numbers of full fat and sodium in regular mac and cheese. Per serving, this has about 255 mg of sodium and 11.8 grams of fat, 4.2 saturated. There are about 368 calories and 48 total grams of carbohydrates, but 3.5 grams of those are dietary fiber.

So there you go. Here is a link to the original recipe in Cooking Light Magazine.

I halved this recipe to make three ramekins of mac and cheese. With only two of us eating tonight, I didn’t need 6 (so we have one left over for lunch).

Lighter Mac and Cheese
adapted from a recipe in the October 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine


2 whole garlic heads
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons water
10 ounce whole-grain penne
2 3/4 cups skim milk
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (about 1 cup)
2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
Cooking spray


1. Preheat broiler to high.
2. Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Place garlic heads in a microwave-safe bowl; rub garlic heads with oil. Pour 3 tablespoons water into bottom of bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes and 30 seconds or until garlic is very tender; cool slightly.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
4. Combine milk and flour in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Milk will be foamy. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened; remove from heat. Stir in pepper, 1 ounce cheddar, and mozzarella.
5. Separate garlic cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Place garlic pulp and 2 cups milk mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Stir garlic mixture into milk mixture. Add pasta; stir to coat. Spoon pasta mixture into 6 (10-ounce) ramekins or gratin dishes or a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 3 ounces cheddar. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Let stand 5 minutes.

Spinach with roasted garlic and onions, lighter mac and cheese and oven fried fish.

Spinach with roasted garlic and onions, lighter mac and cheese and oven fried fish.

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