Q: I love mac and cheese, but I know it tastes so good because of all the butter and cheese in the sauce. I can believe that making it from scratch is way better for me than mixing up something from a box, but is there a way to make it a little more healthy for me without resorting to a thin and fakey “diet” version?
A: Macaroni and cheese often winds up on the dinner table because it’s easy to prepare and kids (and adults) will eat it without complaint. Its creamy, gooey cheese sauce, however, generally packs an unwholesome amount of calories, cholesterol, and fat, making it an easy choice but not a healthy one.
We lightened things up in our Everyday Macaroni and Cheese while still keeping most of the creaminess intact. First off, we swapped 50% light cheddar cheese for the full-fat cheese in the sauce; the switch allowed us to trim significant fat while retaining ample flavor. (By the way, you do not want to go down the road of nonfat cheese, which results in a disdainfully sweet flavor and rubbery texture.) Additionally, we used 2% lowfat milk plus reduced-fat evaporated milk in our sauce instead of whole milk (1% and skim milk tasted too thin and didn’t coat the pasta well) for a velvety, smooth, super creamy consistency. Thickening the sauce with cornstarch instead of the typical combination of butter and flour also kept our numbers in check.
After the shake-up, our tasty mac and cheese revision saved about 200 calories and a whopping 19 grams of saturated fat per serving. With our everyday recipe your weeknights will still stay cheesy, but your arteries will run more easily.