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Low-Fat Everyday Macaroni & Cheese

We wanted to develop a macaroni and cheese recipe that could be used as a weekly workhorse meal with reasonable amounts of calories and fat, but without losing too much of the cheesy flavor or creamy texture that makes it such a perennial favorite. Heading into the kitchen with the motto ”Make the fat count,” our philosophy was that every calorie and gram of fat needed to work for us (see per serving nutritional information below).

How we did it:

  • We replaced 12 ounces of full-fat cheddar cheese with a low-fat cheddar cheese
  • We replaced whole milk with 2 percent milk
  • We added a can of evaporated milk for creaminess
  • We replace the buttery roux with cornstarch


Low-Fat Everyday Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 5

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)

1 (12-ounce) can reduced-fat evaporated milk

3/4 cup 2 percent milk

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional)

Pinch cayenne

2 teaspoons cornstarch

8 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

1. Bring 2 1⁄2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.

2. Add the evaporated milk, 1⁄2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1⁄4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.

3. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.


PER SERVING: Cal 360; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 40 mg; Carb 45 g; Protein 24 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 720 mg


FACT: 17% of American children are overweight.

FACT: A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

FACT: One third of all children born in 2000 will contract diabetes.

Our Favorite Links

Center for Informed Food Choices

Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Jamie Oliver’s Feed Me Better Campaign

The Center for Science in the Public Interest

The Public Health Advocacy Institute

The Massachusetts Public Health Association

Government of the People

Harvard School of Public Health--Nutrition Source

Centers for Disease Control--Healthy Youth

Our Favorite Books

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy by Walter Willett

Food Politics by Marion Nestle

What to Eat by Marion Nestle

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Chew On This by Eric Schlosser

Appetite For Profit by Michele Simon


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