Jordan had a quick work-trip to New York last week, so I was on my own for dinner. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes not ;). It’s hard to get motivated to actually cook something for one person. I know it’s really not that different than cooking for my normal 2 people, but for some reason if feels way different. Usually when I’m home alone, I’ll just have a salad or toss some frozen veggies together and call it a stir-fry, etc. Very rarely do I actually cook anything and I almost never try new recipes, but for whatever reason I was in the mood for macaroni and cheese. However, traditional macaroni and cheese is probably one of the most unhealthy things I could have had for dinner – carbs, fat, and very little protein.

After some debate, I decided to make a lightened-up version of mac and cheese using pumpkin in place of some of the cheese and whole wheat pasta. Pumpkin in macaroni and cheese seems weird at first, but I had already tried butternut squash in my mac and cheese so adding pumpkin really wasn’t that much of a stretch. It doesn’t really taste like pumpkin, but it doesn’t taste entirely like traditional mac and cheese either. It’s delicious whatever it is though! Obviously pasta is not super healthy, but if you’re going to eat pasta an easy way to make it slightly healthier is to switch to whole wheat. There are lots of different whole wheat pastas out there with more fiber and more protein than regular pasta – be sure and read the labels. The pumpkin adds some healthiness to the mac and cheese. It also adds some creaminess, which allowed me to reduce the amount of cheese to save some fat and calories. Since I was eating alone, I only made a single serving and I baked it in a cute little ramekin that I bought at The Dollar Tree. It was a big serving though, and I was only able to eat about 3/4th of it before I was stuffed. But if you eat the entire serving it’s still only 357 calories and 9 grams of fat – which is wayyy less than most mac and cheese recipes will set you back! Of course, it is still heavy on the carbs but it does have 18 grams of protein which will help keep you full longer. It’s the perfect recipe for those times when you’re craving traditional mac and cheese, but still want to fit into your skinny jeans ;). Enjoy!

Healthier Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese {for one}

2 oz whole wheat elbows
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp grated parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to broil.
2. In small sauce pan over low heat, stir together pumpkin, mozzarella cheese, milk, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne until warm and cheese is melted. Stir in cooked pasta. Place in greased ramekin. Top with parmesan cheese.
3. Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

Nutritional Info: 357 calories; 6.9 g fat; 55.4 g carbohydrates; 8.6 g fiber; 18.4 g protein.

Categories: Main Dish, Pumpkin, Side Dish

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