Whoever says that macaroni and cheese isn’t one of his favorite comfort foods is definitely lying straight to your face. No matter if it comes from the box or if it was homemade by grandma, even the smell of mac and cheese can make the eyes of a college kid light up like nothing else — a time machine back to our elementary school days filled with nap time and no cares in the world.

Unfortunately, the cheesier and creamier (a.k.a. better) this dish becomes, the more calories and fat it packs into each decadent forkful. Of course, treating yourself with a heaping serving of truffle mac and cheese once in a while is nothing to look down upon, but for those trying to slim down their waistlines, be more healthful and add more veggies into their diets without sacrificing taste, this recipe is for you.

The not-so-secret ingredient in this healthier version of mac and cheese is butternut squash, which adds a creaminess and a natural orange color to the pasta that doesn’t come from the oh-so-familiar white packet filled with neon artificial cheese powder.

The Greek yogurt acts as a substitution for heavy cream and is an easy way to get more protein while cutting down on fat. The whole wheat pasta is a non-refined complex carbohydrate that your body can slowly digest and use for energy. These three simple swaps significantly cut the calories and increase the nutritional value of your dinner without sacrificing the taste.

So take some time at home this summer to step foot in your kitchen and step away from the easy mac and I promise that you AND your body won’t regret it.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

  • Prep Time:5 minutes
  • Cook Time:40 minutes
  • Total Time:45 minutes
  • Servings:8
  • Medium

    Ingredients

  • 3 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cup skim milk
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grated Parmesean cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
Photo by Malia Budd
Photo by Malia Budd

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the cubed butternut squash, chicken stock and garlic to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Photo by Malia Budd
Photo by Malia Budd

Step 2

Add the milk into the saucepan during the last minute of the simmering. This is to avoid curdling.

Step 3

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the penne according to package directions. When the pasta is done, drain and add to a large baking dish.

Photo by Malia Budd
Photo by Malia Budd

Step 4

Remove squash medley from heat and pour the contents into a food processor. Add in Greek yogurt and your choice of seasonings. Blend until mixture is smooth. Then add Gruyere and Parmesan cheese and blend until fully combined.

Photo by Malia Budd
Photo by Malia Budd

Step 5

Pour cheesy squash mixture over the pasta and top with breadcrumbs and chopped parsley. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy! Leftovers store well in Tupperware in the refrigerator.

Photo by Malia Budd
Photo by Malia Budd