For all our fellow mac and cheese lovers, today is National Mac and Cheese Day! We wanted to help you get into the spirit by sharing a healthified mac and cheese recipe. Yup! You heard that right, a healthy mac and cheese recipe. This is a recipe that is still packed with flavor and cheesy-goodness but manages to sneak in a vegetable and cut the saturated fat intake in half.
We used Banza Chickpea pasta as the base of the dish. We love Banza because it's made with chickpeas, which means double the protein, four times the fiber, and nearly half the net carbs of traditional pasta.
We also used butternut squash puree paired with yellow onions to replace some of the cheese a traditional mac and cheese recipe would suggest. As the squash and onion tenderize together, it helps bring out a creamy, gooey consistency, mimicking how cheese would usually cook. Before you start to worry and ask ‘where is the cheese in this mac and cheese?’, we want to assure you that this recipe still uses cheese, just not as MUCH. And we think it's just as delicious.
Try it out and see for yourself!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Casserole
2 boxes of Banza Elbows Chickpea Pasta
20 ounces of cubed butternut squash
2 cups Organic Valley Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup milk (can substitute with plain almond milk)
2 tablespoons Fourth and Heart Original Ghee (can substitute with butter)
½ medium yellow onion
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bag of Bitsy’s Brainfood Cheddar Chia Veggie Smart Crackers
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Fill large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Once water starts boiling, cook pasta for approximately 5 minutes. (It will be going in oven so do not cook the entire time as listed on box).
- In a saucepan on medium heat, add butternut squash and milk. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cook mixture until butternut squash is completely tender.
- Take mixture off stove and mash the milk and butternut squash until it resembles a puree. Place mixture on side.
- In large saute pan, add butter. Once it has melted add yellow onion, salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until tender.
- Add the squash puree, stock, cayenne pepper and nutmeg to the saute pan. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes.
- Add cheese and pasta. Stir to combine evenly. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Place mac and cheese in large cast iron skillet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- As oven preheats, place one bag of Cheddar Chia Veggie Smart Crackers and pulse in food processor until it resembles breadcrumb consistency.
- Sprinkle Smart Cracker bread crumbs on top of mac and cheese.
- Place in oven until cracker topping is golden brown or approximately 15 minutes.