It’s hard to resist a plate of mac ‘n’ cheese — and now you don’t have to.
“Recipe Rehab,” a new show on ABC, invades a family’s kitchen to prove that decadent foods can be cooked healthier.
“There’s no reason comfort food can’t be healthy,” assures host Danny Boome. “Thirty years ago, you didn’t have half-fat cheese or low sodium tomatoes. Now we have nonstick pans, so we don’t need oil or butter.”
On the show, chefs duel it out to rehab a family’s favorite comfort food recipe into a healthier version of the original.
The family gets to judge the two healthier dishes and decide a winner based on overall taste and closeness to the original meal.
“The first thing of healthy cooking is cooking,” says Boome said. “If you’re cooking instead of reheating and defrosting, that’s a great start.”
Bake, don’t fry.
Baking reduces oil and is overall a healthier option.
Choose your meats wisely.
Lean beef is healthier than normal beef. At the grocery store, Boome says look for the “20 percent fat, 80 percent lean meat” option. Even better, use turkey.
Cut fat in half.
When presented with a reduced fat option, go for it. “It’s just healthier for you,” says Boome.
Use bold cheeses.
Reduce the amount of cheese you use in a dish by buying bolder cheeses. Instead of cheddar, use sharp cheddar. This way you can use a smaller amount without sacrificing taste. Boome also recommends Parmesan cheese for its strong flavor.
Creamy Butternut Squash Mac ‘N Cheese
Recipe by Chef Candice Kumai, excerpt from “Cook Yourself Sexy,” 2012 Rodale Books
1 (21/2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into quarters, then cubed (about 5 cups)
2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 (1 pound) box small elbow macaroni or mini shells
3/4 cup Panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 easpoon coarse salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 easpoon red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 cup finely shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
To prepare the squash puree:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a 13-by-9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Place a large pot over medium heat.
Add the squash, almond milk, broth, garlic and thyme.
Simmer until the butternut squash is fork-tender.
Remove the thyme sprigs from the butternut squash mixture.
Transfer the squash mixture, including the liquid, to a food processor or blender.
Puree until the mixture is velvety smooth.
To prepare the topping:
In a mixing bowl, combine
the breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes (if using).
To prepare the macaroni:
Cook the macaroni to al dente (with a bite) in boiling salted water.
Drain and rinse with cool water.
Spread out the macaroni in the prepared baking dish.
Pour the squash puree over the pasta.
Spread topping mixture evenly over macaroni.
Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.
Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly.
Remove the foil from the baking dish and bake for an addition five minutes.
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant