bowl of mac and cheese with butternut squash sauce
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For many, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food to indulge in. Cheesy, creamy, and starchy; there’s a reason it’s typically referred to as comfort food rather than health food. That said, this mac and cheese recipe has gotten a healthy twist so that you can enjoy your favorite indulgence without completely jeopardizing a clean diet.

Traditionally, mac and cheese is loaded with cheese, butter, and flour to create the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth concoction that it is. While we didn’t completely ditch the cheese in this recipe, we did ditch the flour and butter.

So, you may be wondering how we replicated the creamy quality of mac and cheese without some of the traditional mac and cheese ingredients. Well, the secret lies in one of our favorite fruit-turned-vegetables — butternut squash!

Yes, that’s right; this healthy mac and cheese recipe is made with butternut squash sauce. The sauce for this mac and cheese is so good, that your kids won’t even notice they’re eating a healthy version of this comfort food classic.

We suggest pairing this deliciously cheesy, squash-laden sauce with whole grain pasta for a truly health-focused meal, but you can also use gluten-free pasta if you are gluten-intolerant.

Mac and Cheese Recipe

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni (uncooked)
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small butternut squash (4-5 cups cubed)
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese (we like sharp cheddar or gruyere)
  • pinch of salt and pepper (optional, to taste)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the macaroni according to the package instructions, boiling the macaroni in salted water. Drain the macaroni and temporarily set aside.
  2. In a medium pan, warm the grapeseed oil or vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium once the oil is hot and add in the sliced onion. Sauté for about 20 minutes, until the onion is golden and fragrant.
  3. To a separate, large saucepan, add the chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. While you’re waiting for the broth to come to a boil, peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into cubes. Once the broth has come to a boil, add the squash to the saucepan and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the squash is tender.
  4. Reserve 1/2 a cup of broth, then drain the rest of the broth from the saucepan. To a food processor or a high-powered blender, add the cooked squash, cooked onions, reserved broth, milk, and salt. Purée until completely smooth.
  5. Combine the sauce, cooked macaroni, and cheese together, stirring everything until the cheese has melted and the pasta is well-coated in the sauce. Taste test for any needed salt or pepper. If you need to thin out the consistency of the pasta, feel free to stream in a little water or milk to do so.

Recipe adapted from PinchofYum.com

Born and raised in Southern California, Beeta has embraced a healthy lifestyle focused on farm-to-table cooking, natural products, and wellness routines. When she's not writing up recipes or discussing the latest natural living trends, Beeta enjoys spending time trying new restaurants, traveling with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her furry companion.