A healthy twist to a favorite comfort food

By Kaila Proulx
Healthy Helper

The weather channel keeps telling us that the temperatures are getting warmer, but as far as I can tell, it’s still cold and dreary outside. This type of environment makes me crave comfort food like none other … especially my mom’s homemade mac and cheese.

Being a lover of healthy foods as well, my mom never really made the traditional mac and cheese, but instead lightened it up with a few simple swaps and tricks. The use of Gouda, with its strong flavor, allows you to use less cheese than you normally would and thus a lot of calories and grams of fat are saved. The use of whole-wheat pasta and addition of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, amp the fiber content. Give it a try!

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Family Circle Magazine
Makes 4 servings

· 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets

· 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

· 2 tbsp olive oil

· 1/2 tsp salt

· 1/4 tsp garlic powder

· 1/8 tsp black pepper

· 1/2 tsp italian seasoning

· 1/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs

· 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted organic butter

· 1 box of whole wheat rotini

· 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

· 2 cups of 2% milk

· 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

· 6 oz of smoked gouda cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375. Toss cauliflower, oil, salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper together. Spread onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes and then reduce heat to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (toss a little salt in at this point).
In a small pan heat 1/2 tbsp. of butter and toss in breadcrumbs until lightly toasted (about 2-3 minutes). Set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain it and return it to the pot. In the a small saucepan , heat 1 tbsp. of butter, add flour and whisk for two minutes, then whisk in milk, remaining salt, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and whisk in Gouda.
Combine the pasta with the sauce and veggies. Pour mixture into a 13x9x2-baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

The result is a delicious comfort meal with amazing flavor.

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