Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

>> Monday, August 30, 2010

I'll get to this weekend (and our 20 mile run) later. I wanted to start today off with my new favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. It's inspired by Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook -- she added cauliflower puree to make the kid-favorite healthier. We went a step further, using whole wheat pastry flour, garbanzo puree (instead of cream cheese), and pumpkin instead of cauliflower.

Makes this cheesy dish a little more grown up. Also adds some wonderful nutrition, cuts down on the fat, and keeps in the fridge really well . . . to use for lunch, perhaps?

(That is, is you have any left -- and we sure didn't!)

Anyway, I've written about my love for Lean Cuisine macaroni and cheese before -- ick, right? -- but I'm happy to declare before you all that I won't be eating that packaged crap anymore.

Plus, this recipe's so easy -- you can memorize it!


What you'll need . . .
  • 1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup pureed garbanzo beans
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Method . . .
  1. Cook the pasta to the package directions.
  2. While you wait for it to finish: Spray the inside of a large sauce-pot with the cooking spray. Pour in the olive oil and cook over medium heat. Then stir in the wheat pastry flour and keep stirring until the mixture is thick -- but not browned. (About 1 minute)
  3. Add the milk and stir constantly for between 2 and 3 minutes. Until thick.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, and pureed garbanzo beans (to puree, just rise a can garbanzos, put in a food processor with a couple tablespoons water, pulse until smooth -- like hummus), paprika, and pepper. Stir until everything is melted. Add more seasonings to taste.
  5. When you pasta is done, just drain and add to the cheese mixture. Stir for a minute or two, then turn off the heat and serve.
  6. I added some whole wheat breadcrumbs to mine.
We served ours with a gigantic bowl of veggie chili soup (because it's more like a soup, but with all the chili ingredients -- recipe later in the week) and a cold beer. The pasta we used? Barilla PLUS -- great tasting, but with "all the protein, omega-3s, and fiber you need."

Have you ever tinkered with a favorite recipe to make it healthier? Were you satisfied with the result? Sometimes we are, sometimes we aren't. There are definitely cookie recipes, for example, that we'd rather keep original -- full of sugar and fat. However, this healthy twist on mac 'n cheese is here to stay!

ALSO: Don't forget to enter our Operation Beautiful Giveaway. That's right! We're giving away a copy of Caitlin Boyle's new book -- enter by Friday, September 3rd at 9PM EST for your chance to win!

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