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Munchie Monday – Mac and Cheese…Lite?

By Assistant Editor Shayna Spiker

In my quest to find healthy recipes that don’t end up tasting like you’re eating dirt, I stumbled on a lightened version of Macaroni and Cheese from Fitness Magazine. Mac and Cheese isn’t something I eat regularly, but I do enjoy it (perhaps because I have a mad love affair with cheese that is bound to give me a heart attack some day).

Last night, I was looking for something to make for dinner that was warm and hearty, but wasn’t a soup or stew. I checked my personal recipe book for something that stuck out to me and sure enough, Mac and Cheese Lite grabbed my attention.

What first got my attention when I discovered this recipe was that it calls for an onion-garlic puree and Greek yogurt. These are all things I would never associate with Mac and Cheese. So I tried the recipe, and I have to say it was pretty simple. It has a moderate amount of steps, all of which are quick and easy to do.

It required a bit more salt than I anticipated, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious! The Greek yogurt and garlic made it tangy (but in a good way, I promise) and gave it the extra kick it needed from not being loaded with cheese. I would, without a doubt, make this recipe again when I’m craving something wholesome but don’t want to spend 2 days worth of calories on one meal.

Without further ado, Mac and Cheese Lite:

Mac and Cheese Lite

Makes: 4 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
4 ounces whole wheat macaroni
1/2 cup onion-garlic puree (see “Rocco’s Secret Weapon,” below)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar
1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Rocco’s Secret Weapon

Bechamel sauce (a mixture of milk, butter, and flour) plays a starring role in traditional mac and cheese recipes. DiSpirito uses this aromatic blend of onion and garlic to build flavor and texture without fat (makes 1 cup).

Step 1

Combine 1 large Vidalia onion, 9 garlic cloves (roughly chopped), and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Step 2

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high 10 minutes.

Step 3

Pour the mixture into a blender; blend until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. (Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 72 hours.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mist an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set it aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions, drain.
  3. Meanwhile, bring onion-garlic puree, mustard, and cayenne to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in cheddar until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the macaroni with the cheese sauce. Season with salt to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle panko over the top. Top with Parmesan.
  5. Bake until Parmesan is melted and macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving (about 2/3 cup): 237 calories, 17g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 7g fat (4g saturated), 3g fiber


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