February is Heart Health Month; an important time for promoting awareness and sharing life-saving tools related to Cardiovascular Disease.
Currently, in this country, Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Fortunately, making healthy meal choices can make a significant difference in helping you to avoid heart disease and its complications. Choosing foods that are low in saturated fat and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Similarly, limiting salt in your diet can serve to lower blood pressure. With that in mind, this dish couldn’t come at a more perfect time. Butternut squash mac and cheese offers a healthy twist on a comfort-food classic, satisfying even the pickiest of palates while simultaneously offering a nutritional punch. This hearty entree retains the color and creaminess of traditional macaroni and cheese, while losing the gratuitous fat that the old school version so often comes with. The star of this dish, butternut squash, is low in fat and high in Dietary Fiber, Potassium, and Vitamin A. On top of that, it is naturally high in carotenoids, known to protect against heart disease, making this dish particularly fitting for heart health month. If that weren’t enough, butternut squash is known for being rich in antioxidants. A single serving of this deliciousness will provide a significant amount of antioxidant-rich Vitamin C, working to help your body reduce inflammation and boost your immune system at the same time.
- 3 cups butternut squash, cubed and peeled
- ½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup skim milk
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- ¼ grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅛ cup bread crumbs
- 3 cups whole wheat penne noodles
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large pot, combined cubed butternut squash, chicken broth, milk and garlic and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until squash is tender then remove from heat.
- Add Greek yogurt, pepper and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth (alternatively, you could add the mixture to a blender or food processer).
- Stir in Gruyere until melted and then fold in pasta.
- Pour everything into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes.
- Remove from oven and turn oven to Broil.
- Sprinkle Parmesan and bread crumbs over pasta and return to oven for an additional 5-7 minutes until cheese has browned and noodle edges are crispy.
Recipe makes: 8 servings; each serving: 224 calories, 4g fat, 3g fiber, 10g protein