Mac n’ Cheese is an all-American favorite and definitely at the top of my kids’ dinner list, but let’s be honest, who really wants to eat macaroni & cheese from a BOX with POWDERED CHEESE?!?! That’s not REAL FOOD!!! I am a huge advocate of feeding my family what they want, but also, rehabbing it to a more non-traditional dish that satisfies their little taste buds, while still giving them all of the nutrients they need to fuel their bodies!
Creamy Baked Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash
Still an all-time favorite, but getting our fix with veggies, lowfat dairy, whole grain pasta, and butternut squash to up the nutrient quotient!!
We love butternut squash, not only for the sweet, delicious taste, but also for the tremendous health benefits that come along with it:
- Butternut squash compose of many vital poly-phenolic anti-oxidants and vitamins. As in other Cucurbitaceae members, butternut too has very low calories; 100 g provides just 45 calories. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, is rich source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients. Squash is one of the common vegetables that often recommended by dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight-reduction programs.
- It has more vitamin A than that of in pumpkin. At 10630 IU per 100 g, it is perhaps the single vegetable source in the Cucurbitaceae family with the highest levels of vitamin-A, constituting about 354% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for optimum eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protected against lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Furthermore, butternut squash has plenty of natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like α and ß-carotenes, cryptoxanthin-ß, and lutein. These compounds convert to vitamin A inside the body and deliver same protective functions of vitamin A on the body.
- It is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
- It has similar mineral profile as that in pumpkin, containing adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Butternut squash seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that benefit for heart health. In addition, they are rich in protein, minerals, and numerous health-benefiting vitamins. The seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid, tryptophan. Tryptophan converts to health benefiting GABA neuro-chemical in the brain.
Health benefits sourced from http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/butternut-squash.html
Recipe makes 8 servings.
1 lb. bag brown rice noodles (if brown rice isn’t available, go for whole grain)
1 tsp. olive or canola oil
1 cup cooked butternut squash (if squash is unavailable, use cooked yams instead)
2 cloves garlic
4 oz. Chevre goat cheese (dairy-free omit)
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (dairy-free, use soy yogurt)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups shredded lowfat mozzarella cheese (dairy-free, use Daiya or another brand)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat a rectangular (about 10×10) baking dish with a dab of olive oil and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, not mushy. Drain and toss cooked pasta with a tsp. of oil (olive or canola) to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Set aside.
3. In a food processor, pulse cooked squash along with garlic, goat cheese & yogurt. Add cayenne pepper, nutmeg, black pepper, and sea salt and give one last pulse. Mixture should be creamy & smooth. Add a little water, if necessary, to get the right consistency.
4. In the same baking dish you’re cooking in, toss the noodles with the squash sauce until thoroughly mixed. Season with additional spices (cayenne pepper, nutmeg, black pepper, and sea salt) to taste. Add the shredded cheese and toss.
5. Bake until top is golden brown, about 12-15 minutes!
Serve with a mixed green salad, if desired.
Enjoy & Remember to Eat Cleaner, Everyday!
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