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Video: Make a healthier mac ’n cheese

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    >>> mac and cheese .

    >> and especially on a day like today, even though it's great on its own, there are ways to make it more nutritious and delicious. and several of these recipes featured in "parents" magazine. jenna, good morning.

    >> hi.

    >> you couldn't have picked a more perfect recipe for a day like today. making healthier versions. you've got a barbecue version and the greenalicious version.

    >> that's right. we've got flour and salt here, you want to add that to the butter in the pan. and whip this up.

    >> we're making kind of a roux.

    >> exactly. all we have to do is put this together.

    >> okay.

    >> let this cook for about a minute or so, and then add the milk. my milk here is plain, yours has spinach pureed in it.

    >> so green.

    >> good for st. patrick's day, right?

    >> yeah.

    >> we want to whisk, whisk, whisk and let this simmer. and these recipes are great because we've also, you know, made them a little bit healthier.

    >> right.

    >> we use the light butter and using the cheese, which has a great flavor and is really a little strong. so a little goes a long way.

    >> okay. you don't have to pile it on as much.

    >> exactly.

    >> now we want to take it off the heat.

    >> okay. not too hot.

    >> ahh!

    >> all right. go ahead and add the cheese.

    >> you're such a jokester.

    >> funny. and i'm going to mix in my barbecue variation.

    >> a cup of shredded chicken and two tablespoons of barbecue sauce . and we're going to put our pasta in already, right?

    >> that's right. add the pasta. stir it all up. i don't know if my kids would go for green mac & cheese .

    >> it's bright enough, they would be intrigued by it.

    >> well, you said st. patrick's day, you could say you dyed it green.

    >> and add it to the baking dish over here.

    >> okay.

    >> got it?

    >> delicious.

    >> and then --

    >> what do you like to put on top?

    >> it's whole wheat panko, and adds a little extra fiber and nutrition and gives it a great crunch.

    >> and you can find this at any grocery store , too?

    >> absolutely.

    >> how long do you bake that for?

    >> 20 minutes. super quick.

    >> okay.

    >> and back here, the finished version, the barbecue mac, i made this for my family this weekend. they went crazy for it. no kidding. loved it.

    >> perfect super bowl food, too.

    >> yes. please, have a taste.

    >> and you also made with the store bought version, different variations.

    >> so we know the store bought, just look for a brand lower in fat and sodium. this is a buffalo chicken version, buffalo wing sauce, shredded chicken, and if you want, add a little blue cheese. optional for the kids. and then the other one is a mini meatball .

    >>> kathie lee , hoda.

    >> what?

    >> what?

    >> what's coming up?

    >> why are you yelling?

    >> i don't know.

    >> what happened with the game last night.

    >> it was close.

    >> it was close to home . chance of a lifetime .

    >> what time did you get in last night?

    >> i got in there. got in fine. coming home , i

TODAY recipes
updated 1/31/2014 5:24:16 PM ET 2014-01-31T22:24:16

Recipe: Basic mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2 qt. square baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Cook pasta as directed. Drain and keep warm. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and salt and stir for 1 minute. Add milk and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.

Toss together pasta and cheese sauce. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe: Stovetop mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 3 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp. light butter with canola oil
  • 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 6 oz. reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz. plain low-fat Greek yogurt
Preparation

Cook macaroni as directed on package. Drain and return to pot. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir flour into butter. Whisk in milk. Stir until milk is thickened and bubbly. Cook 1 minute more.

Remove pan from heat and add cheese. Stir until smooth. Stir in yogurt. Mix together sauce and macaroni.

Recipe: Mac & cheese with Buffalo chicken wings

Ingredients
  • Buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the basic mac & cheese recipe as directed. Stir buffalo sauce and shredded chicken into completed mac & cheese. Transfer to plates and top with crumbled blue cheese.

Recipe: BBQ-inspired mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 2 tbs. barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the basic mac & cheese recipe as directed up until mixing pasta and cheese sauce together. Add in the barbecue sauce and shredded chicken. Mix all together. Transfer pasta to baking dish. Add the bread crumbs and bake until heated all the way through.

Recipe: Mini meatball mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen mini meatballs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the basic mac & cheese recipe as directed. Heat the mini meatballs as directed and stir into completed mac & cheese.

Recipe: Greenalicious mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 1 or 2 cups of packed fresh spinach
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the basic mac & cheese recipe as directed, but puree the milk and spinach in a food processor before adding to the cheese sauce.

Transfer pasta to baking dish. Add the bread crumbs and bake until heated all the way through.

Recipe: Extra gooey mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cubed fresh or frozen butternut squash
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the stovetop mac & cheese recipe as directed, but swap cheddar cheese for fontina. Boil 1 cup cubed fresh or frozen butternut squash until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash with fork.

Recipe: Pizza time mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cubed fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • Basil
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the stovetop mac & cheese recipe as directed, but substitute cheddar cheese for 1 cup cubed fresh mozzarella. Add 1/2 tomato sauce and a bit of basil.

Recipe: French onion mac & cheese

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 cup cubed fresh or frozen butternut squash
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup light butter with canola oil (Land O Lakes)
  • 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
Preparation

Make the basic mac & cheese recipe as directed, but substitute fontina cheese with Gruyere and stir in 1 cup carmalized onions.

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