Healthy Recipe: 200-Calorie Homemade Mac and Cheese!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Nicole found this recipe on another blog, YumSugar, and I immediately wanted to try it. I made it for our SparkPeople pre-Thanksgiving potluck. (It was a hit!) Butternut squash is puréed with milk and vegetable broth and mixed with three kinds of cheese to create a rich, decadent, and slightly healthier dish. This might just find a place on my Thanksgiving menu!

The recipe, which originally came from Martha Stewart, has 200 calories and fewer than 6 grams of fat per serving.

An alternate title for this blog post could be: So you think you hate vegetables/How to love butternut squash. I happen to love this particular winter squash, but if you have a finicky eater, this recipe is a great way to sneak in some vegetables. Each serving has just shy of a serving of vegetables. You could definitely use more squash to boost the vegetable content.

You can also use this trick with boxed macaroni and cheese. The squash is already orange (thanks to the beta-carotene and other antioxidants!) so the kids won't know it's in the mac and cheese!

I made a few tweaks to the recipe: I substituted vegetable broth for chicken broth, used whole wheat pasta to add a couple of grams of fiber per serving, and diced the squash to cut down the cooking time. Read on to get the recipe!

Click the recipe for full nutritional info: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and diced (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1 clove of garlic, smashed
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole wheat spirals
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil cooking spray, to grease baking pan


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Combine squash, garlic, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. (Dicing reduced this time to 10 minutes.) Remove from heat.

2. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

3. Drain pasta, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. (Honestly, you could also stop here. My boyfriend and I ate some of the pasta last night, and we skipped the step of baking it. It was more decadent and creamy as the baked version, but it lacked the crunchy topping. Eliminating the breadcrumb topping will cut half a gram of fat and 11 calories a serving.)

4. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish.

5. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodles.

6. Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, briefly broil to toast breadcrumb topping. Serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Per serving:
Calories: 200.0
Total Fat: 5.8 g

Pardon the blurry photos of the finished product. I was in hurry to eat!
Will you try this recipe? How do you slim down macaroni and cheese?

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  • JAYRAY15
    I made this and I thought it was horrible. Maybe I did something wrong. Just could not manage to get it down. Yuck! - 1/9/2015   6:40:38 PM
  • 77
    I made this today, and it's definitely a keeper. Who'd have thought to add butternut squash! I made it exactly according to the recipe, but will probably do some custom tweaking. - 4/15/2012   9:42:02 PM
  • 76
    I avoid mac and cheese - but this one I may have to try. - 11/24/2009   9:36:16 AM
  • 75
    I don't even try to go low-cal with my mac & cheese! I only allow myself to have it about once every month,so I really enjoy it !...This does sound like a very good and healthier way to prepare it! - 11/23/2009   2:59:45 PM
  • 74
    Mac & Cheese has always been one of my comfort foods. With this recipe, I can eat it and not feel guilty! I am definitely going to try this recipe as soon as I get to the store to buy the cheeses and whole-wheat spirals. Thank you! - 11/23/2009   10:43:01 AM
  • 73
    found similar recipe on healthy appetite by Ellie Krieger...I was not fond of it....I may try this one. - 12/3/2008   10:42:06 AM
    This serves 8. (That text is directly under the photo.) I double-checked the recipe text in SparkRecipes. It's correct. It's 200 calories a serving.
    Stepfanie - 11/21/2008   3:09:31 PM
  • 71
    My granddaugher loves mac and cheese and we both love to eat butternut squash I will be trying this recipe this week with some pork chops. yum! - 11/20/2008   9:14:33 PM
  • 70
    I sneaked canned pumpkin into broccoli-cheese soup. Turned it a nice rich cheesy color, and I was able to get away with just a smidge of sharp cheddar for flavor. I use skim evaporated milk, too, for a rich (fake) cream soup base. - 11/20/2008   8:00:38 PM
  • 69
    That is so sneeky. I love the idea. - 11/20/2008   3:43:46 PM
  • 68
    Ellie Krieger of the Food Network makes one that is almost the same, but uses frozen squash that makes it even easier. We love it. - 11/20/2008   3:10:24 PM
  • 67
    I intend to try this one! - 11/20/2008   1:59:43 PM
    I haven't read through all the posts, so someone may have mentioned this already....This is similar to a recipe from Deceptively Delicious and it is fantastic. I haven't made it with butternut squash, but have used pureed cauliflower. Check out this cookbook if you have fussy toddlers that just won't eat their veggies!! - 11/20/2008   1:56:28 PM
  • 65
    love the idea to try with baby food squash - I can't always find fresh ingredients!
    and this does sound really good. - 11/20/2008   1:32:41 PM
  • 64
    I have made a similar recipe. I used jarred baby squash. My extremely picky 7 year old ate it right up! - 11/20/2008   1:14:58 PM
  • 63
    Sounds divine and butternut squash is wonderful! It's tempting to try and pass this one off on my mac n cheese addicted kids! - 11/20/2008   12:50:08 PM
    This looks so good!A while back on Healthy Appetite she made a recipe similar to this. I'll have to see if I can make a vegan version. - 11/20/2008   11:54:15 AM
  • 61
    OMG, I love that Martha Stewart recipe, but I can't wait to try yours. I can't believe I can eat this again. I love butternut squash and everything else that goes into your version. Thank you so much for taking the time to make the recipe a healthy version. - 11/20/2008   11:42:26 AM
  • 60
    I will definitely try this! I have an overweight teen that loves Mac & Cheese. If I can find a healthier version, I'd be willing to let her have it on occasion. (She hasn't had it at home for over a year so she'll be surprised!).
    Once she trys it, I'll let her know the health benefits (that is of course, after she's finished it and said how yummy it is)!
    Thanks for this recipe! - 11/20/2008   11:30:56 AM
  • 59
    Hot Dog! I love mac and cheese, and I love butternut squash. Now I can have the best of both worlds and not have to skimp on the mac and cheese. I can't WAIT to try this recipe. Thank you!! - 11/20/2008   10:07:15 AM
  • 58
    I'll have to give this a try, butternut squash is really good, but since I'm the only one who will eat it, I need more freezer packaging - 11/20/2008   9:20:40 AM
  • ANOVED74
    I will try this soon!! - 11/20/2008   8:16:04 AM
  • 56
    I've heard of this and would love to try it. My kids love squash, so it won't be a struggle - their challenge is the whole wheat pasta! - 11/20/2008   7:40:12 AM
    Yum, sounds delicious. - 11/20/2008   1:14:01 AM
  • 54
    A serving would be 1/8th of the total amount. If in a baking dish, you could cut the servings into equal squares or like a pie. - 11/20/2008   12:39:50 AM
    i love macaroni and cheese not sure about the squash never tried it i guess i can make it without it i am going to give it a try - 11/19/2008   10:27:56 PM
  • 52
    I love both squash and mac & cheese, I will certainly try this one! - 11/19/2008   5:04:58 PM
  • 51
    Well, the caption had me hooked, UNTIL I read the first ingredient,, I abhor any form of squash,, that is ok though, I will stick to my salads,, you all can eat my share of squash,, one of the four vegetables on earth I really hate,,
    - 11/19/2008   3:15:14 PM
  • 50
    mmmmm....thank you! - 11/19/2008   3:14:26 PM
  • 49
    This sounds yummy...anyway to boost comfort with extra healthy ingred. is great with me! - 11/19/2008   2:14:39 PM
  • 48
    Family did not knoe the difference from any other. they asked for more big hit. - 11/19/2008   2:06:09 PM
  • 47
    With little ones in the house, this is a great way to not only sneak in more nutrition, but also let them somewhat taste new flavors to get used to the idea of eating things that they normally wouldn't. I think they would love to help me make it and play a "who can find where the squash went" game while we eat it!

    In answer to the question about the whole wheat pasta being 210 calories already for 1/8 of the package - my package had slightly different numbers too, so I'm sure every brand is different, but also keep in mind that when you mix other things with the pasta, the 1/8 serving of the mixture together is going to have less than 1/8 serving of pasta in it. Does that make sense? - 11/19/2008   1:45:53 PM
  • 46
    I usually add onions, more garlic, chopped tomatoes, green bell peppers, mushrooms, and black olives to my Mac and Cheese...along with basil, oregano, rosemary and lots of black pepper. (and gluten free pasta) I'll try adding the squash...sounds good! - 11/19/2008   1:34:15 PM
  • 45
    For me, this is way too many caloriers for a side dish, and not nearly enough food for the main dish. - 11/19/2008   12:56:49 PM
    I LOVE mac and cheese, I'm so gonna have to try this! Thanks! - 11/19/2008   12:54:27 PM
  • 43
    That sounds awesome! Another way I sneak a healthy ingredient into Mac'n'cheese is mixing creamed soft tofu into to cheese sauce. You cannot tell, but it makes for a creamy texture my kids like. - 11/19/2008   11:59:15 AM
  • 42
    I will definitely try this one. Yum! - 11/19/2008   11:33:36 AM
  • 41
    I think this sounds delicious, I will try it - 11/19/2008   10:41:44 AM
  • 40
    Hey - I put leftover spaghetti squash in my chili the other day and it was great! This sounds good, too - but I'd add a little dry mustard to get the 'right' flavor. - 11/19/2008   10:26:00 AM
  • 39
    Sounds yummy. Just might give this a try. - 11/19/2008   9:59:31 AM
  • 38
    I love squash and mac & cheese. I will definitly try this! Thanks for sharing. - 11/19/2008   9:43:19 AM
  • 37
    Think I will just have to make this without the pasta and just using lots of squash hope it works without the pasta ;) Sounds so yummy. - 11/19/2008   9:40:20 AM
    LOL I started doing something similair to this when my children were toddlers. They would always eat mac and cheese but often wouldn't eat their vegetables. I would cook the vegetables, puree them and make the cheese sauce with the broth from the vegetables, the vegetables and then cheese and a little cornstarch. It gave a hearty flavor and I was able to sneak in the veggies. Every once in a while my daughter would ask why there was "green trees" (broccoli buds) in the mac and cheese. LOL - 11/19/2008   9:28:21 AM
  • 35
    I've been looking for a good southern style mac and cheese dish and haven't found one that's creamy, tasty and nutritionally correct. I'll consider this, but not promising to make it. Putting butternut squash in mac and cheese would be just un-southern y'all! - 11/19/2008   9:21:18 AM
    I love this! I can't wait to give it a try - my husband and stepson are so picky when it comes to veggies ! Think this is a perfect way to sneak them some! - 11/19/2008   9:16:48 AM
  • 33
    My kids love Mac & Cheese (veggies not so much) so you bet I am going to try this recipe! eh eh

    Thank you! :-) - 11/19/2008   9:16:18 AM
  • 32
    I'm amazed at the different possibilities of eating healthier. I would had NEVER thought to add butternut squash to mac and cheese. Who are the brilliant minds that come up with this stuff. I'm in awe. - 11/19/2008   9:04:26 AM
    I am going to try this & not tell my family what it is. When they give me the rave reviews then I will tell them it's HEALTHIER mac 'n cheese!!! :) - 11/19/2008   8:57:44 AM
  • 30
    Sounds good but I usually skip pasta (especially the ones with rave reviews) because I am bad at portion control and pasta carbs at up fast. - 11/19/2008   8:41:11 AM
    Sounds yummy! - 11/19/2008   8:40:50 AM

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