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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Weight Watcher Friendly Mac and Cheese

I am totally enthralled by a new cookbook - Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious. I finally bought a copy after having drooled over it for weeks. The recipes are a snap to make and are healthy, smart and Weight Watcher friendly. Plus, big bonus, the photographs are divine! The pictures show you exactly how the finished product will look and they are a food stylists inspiration. The book is enjoyable for novice cooks because the preparations are carefully laid out. Tools and equipment are discussed. Nutritional advice is clear and concise. The recipes are family and kid-friendly. The design of the book has a fun, campy retro feel to it. I love this book so much that I am sure I'll be making almost everything in this book before Spring Training begins!


Not this book isn't without its controversy. There have been substantial claims against Mrs. Seinfeld's credibility, recipe creation and claim to fame for having "thought up the idea" of hiding vegetables in her kiddies chicken nuggets. Granted, she is a celebrity wife and mother; New York Socialite-lite, and has a crack team of ghost cookbook writers, stylists, nutritionists and photographers working behind the scenes to make this book a sensation. I still love it. According to an article I read at Slate.com - there may be grounds for having borrowed ideas already out there, but there's no real plagiarism. For me the beauty of this cookbook is in it's simplicity. I like the idea of fortifying recipes with healthier food substitutions and additions - no matter who's recipes these are in Deceptively Delicious. They are low-fat, low sugar and appear to be very well thought-out. For me, it's not about hiding vegetables in my food - I love veggies. It's more a matter of increasing my choices and adding in more pure food where I can. Heck, if a macaroni and cheese dish can be healthier, than it's for me.


Sunday evening I tested out the first recipe by modifying Mrs. Seinfeld's Mac & Cheese 1. It became a Weight Watchers' friendly, Core Plan/2- point per serving side dish that was tasty and extremely low-fat. I couldn't believe it was as good as it looked. This photo doesn't do it justice but I'm sure you get the idea. Here's my version of the recipe:




Weight Watcher Friendly Macaroni & Cheese Ingredients:


  • 2 Cups Uncooked Whole Wheat Pasta - shells, bow-ties, or penne
  • 1 Tablespoon Light Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Skim Milk
  • 4 - 1 Ounce Packages Weight Watchers Shredded Low-Fat Cheddar Cheese or 1 & 1/4 Cups Fat Free or Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese of Choice
  • 1/2 Cup Butternut Squash Puree
  • 1/4 Cup Fat-Free Cream Cheese
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
  • Dash Cayenne
  • Pinch of Nutmeg


Directions:
  1. Cook Pasta in a large pot of salted water until it is al dente - firm with a bit of bite, not crunchy and not mushy. Drain but do not rinse; cover, set aside and keep pasta warm.
  2. While the pasta water is coming to a boil and the pasta cooks, prepare the cheese sauce.
  3. In a small sauce pan, make a roux - heat the 1 tablespoon of light butter/margarine over medium heat until it melts. Whisk in the 1 tablespoon of flour and cook the flour/butter for 2 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste and to make a paste.
  4. Whisk in the milk, stirring well to smooth out any lumps. Simmer the milk and continue stirring - about 3 minutes. The milk should begin to thicken; when the mixture coats the back of a spoon, you are ready to add in the other ingredients.
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in the butternut squash puree.
  6. Add in the cream cheese - whisking to make the sauce smooth and to incorporate the butternut squash puree and cream cheese.
  7. Add in the shredded cheese and stir or whisk to thoroughly incorporate.
  8. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper, paparika, dash of cayenne and pinch of nutmeg.
  9. Pour the cheese mixture over the hot cooked pasta and stir to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasonings again. Serves 4 as a generous side dish.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Denine: Thanks for posting the lo-cal mac and cheese recipe. I'll be sure to try it out. I put on 10 pounds in the last year and need to take them off. I've been going back to the gym and Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac & Cheese recipe isn't going to help. --Mario

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