Mac ‘N Cheese Made healthy – Third time’s the charm!

It’s gotten cold again. And of course, we got more snow. I hate this time of year. It’s just so depressing. You see, spring is desperately trying to come out but winter keeps interfering, like it’s some kind of a war and it just can’t lose. Or maybe it just doesn’t want to let go because it’s afraid it won’t ever be able to come back. Oh, I wish! I never quite understood why it is that all the seasons begin before their official start date, EXCEPT for spring. The most awaited season of all. Well, at least by me! Not that it’s my favourite season, no. I much prefer autumn. It’s just that I HATE winter, with a passion.

There isn’t anything that I like about winter. NOT ONE SINGLE THING. Sure, snow is beautiful… on Christmas day! Other than that, I could entirely do without. Well, no, not quite entirely, to be perfectly honest. There are two reasons why I wouldn’t want to part with winter, at least, not with the whole thing. One, winter makes you appreciate summer even more, and two, there is nothing better than comfort food on a cold winter day. And what better describes comfort food than a piping hot bowl of creamy and gooey Mac ‘N Cheese?

I won’t lie to you; this healthier version of an almost untouchable classic won’t fool you into believing that you are in fact eating something decadently rich and bad for you. In fact, with its loads of broccoli, crunchy hazelnuts and significantly noticeable texture of whole wheat in both the pasta and the sauce, it just screams healthy right at your face. But it’s so unbelievably good, you will no doubt forgive it for behaving so badly.

Ingredients
(serves 3-4)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 100g low fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 30g blue cheese
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp fermented garlic flowers (or one garlic clove, minced)
  • 1½ – 2 cups broccoli florets, lightly steamed
  • 30g toasted hazelnuts, crushed
  • 15g low fat mozzarella
  • 15g sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, ground
  • 1 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 225g whole wheat macaroni

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook the macaroni per the instructions on the package. I like to take advantage of the steam coming out of this pot to give my broccoli a quick steam bath. Just put it in a steamer, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and place it on top of the pot for a minute or two.
  • Meanwile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, salt pepper and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 2- 3 minutes.
  • Add flour and stir to combine. Whisk in the milk, a little bit at a time while stirring constantly to avoid the formation of lumps. Bring to boil then lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes to cook the flour.
  • Add cheeses, Dijon mustard and garlic. Mix in macaroni, steamed broccoli and toasted hazelnuts. Give that a good stir and transfer to a baking dish.
  • Mix mozzarella, sharp cheddar, bread crumbs, ground hazelnuts and cayenne pepper together. Sprinkle that mixture on top of the macaroni then place it in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until it starts to bubble and the top turns nice and golden brown.
  • Serve immediately.
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