Hearty Mac & Cheese

"This was adapted from an Ellie Krieger recipe. I made a few of my own tweaks. A friend of mine challenged me to find a mac & cheese recipe that wouldn't leave us feeling like we ate our entire body weight in fattening dairy. I know it sounds strange to use squash as the base for the cheese sauce, but it actually worked. The dish doesn't taste like squash. It's nice and creamy with a crispy, browned top. If you're looking for a light alternative to many people's favorite comfort food, give this a try."
photo by Diet It Up photo by Diet It Up
photo by Diet It Up
photo by Diet It Up photo by Diet It Up
Ready In:




  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 X 13 baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 6-8 minutes. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the squash is fully defrosted. Turn the heat up and cook until almost simmering. Add the ricotta cheese. Use an immersion blender to make sure the squash, milk and cheese is nice and smooth (this isn't necessary, but it helped the consistency).
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Cheddar, Monterey Jack, salt, mustard and cayenne. Add drained macaroni to the cheese sauce and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  • In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan and olive oil. Sprinkle over the top of the mac & cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for 3 minutes to crisp-up the top.

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I’m a twenty something, alright, late twenty something woman living on Long Island and working at a publishing company in the ever stressful NYC. Food makes me happy. What’s not to love about a cheeseburger and fries with a huge chocolate shake on the side? Come on, it’s a match made in heaven that would put a smile on even the grumpiest face. Unfortunately, I’ve been battling a pesky weight problem for what feels like an eternity. To make matters worse, I recently found out I have a blood sugar condition that will likely lead to diabetes. Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for disaster? So, I desperately needed to find a way to still love food, but also squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans. The solution, you ask? That’s a little tricky. I don’t believe in surviving off the frozen food aisle’s never-ending supply of frostbitten chemical concoctions. And the thought of eating a strict lettuce and water diet makes me want to throw myself off a building. So, what’s a gal to do? I learned to Diet-It-Up. I love to cook and I’m always finding ways to take my favorite recipes and shave off a few calories, eliminate some of the processed ingredients and overhaul it in a way that makes it healthier. I’ve mastered every diet under the sun and while Weight Watchers© and The South Beach Diet© can be very successful, they’re tough to stick with when you just want to eat something that tastes good. I don’t have any fancy formal credentials and I’m not going to preach to you about carbs or fat grams. I just want you to enjoy tasty, delicious meals without the next-day calorie guilt. Mix in a jog or two at the gym and you’re on your way to a healthier life. I’m beginning to collect some of my recipes here. I invite you to Diet-It-Up with me. If we’re good all week, maybe we can even sneak in a few sips of that chocolate shake, wink wink.
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