How many times over the past 20 or so years have we made New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight?  Or at least eat healthier?  Only to have those initiatives fade after a couple of months.  Diet is a four letter word.  I don’t use it any more.  I also don’t make resolutions any more.  I use the word suggestion and it is easier to follow.  So is eating healthier when Ellie Kreiger is around.

Our ‘assignment’ this week was to find something from Ellie to give us a FRESH START.  So, owning 5 of Ellie’s books I went recipe hunting.  It is cold and windy outside.  It is supposed to rain and thunder.  I needed comfort food. What about Mac and Cheese?  Perfect!


Not as ooey-gooey as my regular M&C but tasty and definitely healtheir.

It’s all about not using as much cheese as you normally would and subbing in something to replace the flavor.  Like Winter Squash. And low fat milk.  And ricotta cheese.

    1 pound elbow macaroni
    2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
    2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
    4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
    2 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
    1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon powdered mustard
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
    2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
    1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.    Original Recipe The recipe is also from The Food You Crave. page 168
We liked the sweetness of the butternut mixed with the spice of the cayenne and dried mustard. The only change I would make would to make the chess sauce ‘saucier’ before adding to the pasta, or using less pasta.

I only made 1/2 of the recipe and cut the ricotta in half because I didn’t have enough.  (I think that is why it was just a tad dry.) It was plenty for two people to have more than two medium servings each.  Ellie said the whole recipe made eight 2-cup servings and I didn’t need that much. Each serving is only 390 calories.

Definitely something to make more of this winter when the wind is howling.  The rain is blowing.  The night is dark and dreary.

Check out what the other IHCC members made for their FRESH START.