In my household my family loves comfort food – and nothing says comfort food more than a hearty baked macaroni and cheese.
Many people think that you need to give up comfort foods when trying to lose weight but that is simple not true. Of course, the primary ingredients are cheese and pasta, so you have to be a little extra conscious over the amount you are eating. However, because you control the ingredients and the portions, there is no reason why you cannot fit good old fashion comfort food into a healthy lifestyle.
I adapted this basic macaroni and cheese recipe from the Weight Watchers Annual Recipes for Success 2003 Cookbook. This simple recipe can easily be turned into a complete meal by stirring in vegetables, chicken, or other foods. I am looking forward to playing around more with this mac n cheese in the future.
Whole Wheat Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Serving size: 1/5 of the macaroni and cheese (about 1 cup)
Approximate nutritional information:
Calories: 363 * Carbs: 30 * Fat: 17 * Protein: 20: * Fiber: 5 * Points +: 9 * Old Points: 8
2 ½ cups 1% milk, divided
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (if you use salted then just check for taste before you add the salt)
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, optional if you want to give it a little kick
3 cups cooked whole wheat elbow noodles ( I use bionaturae Organic Whole Wheat Elbows). These need to be very al dente or undercooked by a few minutes. *Tip 6 ounces of dried pasta equals about 3 cups cooked.
¼ cup whole grain bread crumbs (I used homemade but store bought would work fine)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Step 1. In a saucepan, whisk together 1 cup of milk and whole wheat flour. Add in the remainder of the milk.
Step 2. Stir constantly, over medium heat, until it starts to bubble. Add in the butter, cheeses, and spices then cook for another 2 minutes or so, again stirring constantly. Stir in pasta.
Step 3. Spoon mixture into an 8 x 8 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Step 4. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for about 3-5 minutes before serving.
Freezer Cooking Instructions
You can freeze this recipe a couple different ways.
First, you can complete steps 1 and 2 and when the mixture is cool spoon it into a casserole dish lined with plastic wrap (do not add the breadcrumbs). Flash freeze it. Once it is frozen take it out of the casserole dish and wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil. When ready to eat take it out the night before and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Add the breadcrumbs when it is ready to bake. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until cooked through. The cooking time will vary depending on how thawed it is. The more frozen it is the longer it will take. You can cook this straight from the freezer but it will take an hour or so to fully cook.
If you do not want to fuss with plastic wrap then I recommend using Glad SimplyCooking OvenWare 8×8 pans. These are great for preparing freezer meals like macaroni and cheese.
Second way to freezer cook macaroni and cheese is to fully cook the meal then separate into portions and freeze. Ideally, you should warm this up in the oven or toaster oven because pasta will cook unevenly in the microwave. However, if that is all you have it will be fine.