Monday, December 3, 2012

Mac and Cheese Entry #5: Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and that normally means it comes with the calorie count to match.  But what if I told you that you could get the same deliciousness and flavor at a small fraction of the nutritional bomb?  Normally low-fat, low-calorie substitutes are kind of bleh but this recipe I would not have suspected of being lightened up if I didn't know any better.

Most mac and cheese recipes call for an entire stick of butter.  This one has just ONE TABLESPOON.  That's only 1/8th and a huge savings right there.  Then, they also usually call for low-fat milk and/or cream.  This uses SKIM milk.  More calories banked for later!  But let's talk about the cheese.  I thought that surely a low-fat, pre-shredded cheese would yield a result that's less than creamy, right?  But I was wrong!  This lighter mac and cheese recipe could have passed for one of its full fat counterparts!  In fact, the nutrition is boosted with the use of fiber pasta, spinach, and whole wheat bread crumbs.

My only complaint with this recipe was with the secret ingredient - Frank's Buffalo sauce.  I agree it added a great kick of flavor (tangy with a bit of spice!) but there was a little too much for my taste.  I want my mac and cheese to taste pure if it's not a Buffalo Mac and Cheese recipe (like this Buffalo Chicken Casserole) so I would reduce it by half if I were to make this again.  And, I would consider making this again as a low-fat alternative...especially to help with warding off Holiday weight gain and sticking to New Year's weight loss resolutions!

Thanks Sara for sharing and I hope the rest of you readers do the same!  I think you know the drill by now.  Please share the post then come back and comment on the blog post because that's the only way I can track and enter you into the contest to win either Mac & Cheese by Ellen Brown or Mac and Cheese, Please! by Laura Werlin!  As always, see this page for full contest details :).

One Year Ago: Cranberry White Chocolate Almond Cookies
Two Years Ago: Island Spice Pork Tenderloin
Three Years Ago: Cincinnati-Style Chili

Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese


  • 12 oz high fiber elbows like Ronzoni Smart Taste (I couldn't find elbows so used penne)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 8 oz Sargento 2% reduced fat mild cheddar
  • 2 tbsp Frank's Buffalo sauce (Stephanie's secret ingredient!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs


  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Spray a baking dish with buttered flavor Pam. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter. Add flour and cook over low heat stirring with a whisk. Add onion and cook another 2 minutes. Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once it becomes thick, remove from heat, add cheese and buffalo sauce and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked macaroni and baby spinach.Pour into baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more buttered flavor Pam on top.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.
Source: Modified by and as seen on Stephanie Cooks from Skinny Taste.  Submitted by Sara M.


Sara said...

Glad you liked it! I'll have to try it soon!

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

@Sara - Oh I just assumed that you had made it and that's why you submitted. Definitely worth a try!

Sara said...

Ha, no, but it's on my list! :)