Homemade mac and cheese isn't often considered a health food.
With a hefty dose of butter along with the milk and the cheese, the dish can quickly become laden with excess calories and fat.
Registered dietitian Marlene Koch started writing her "Eat What You Love" cookbooks less than 10 years ago, and in the time since,she has become a familiar face on QVC, with her cooking and cookbooks focusing on how to make small changes in your cooking to make it a little lighter.
For her newest book, "What What You Love: Restaurant Favorites: Classic and Crave-Worthy Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat and Calories" (Running Press, $28), Koch developed health-conscious recipes for restaurant-inspired dishes that you can cook at home, such as P.F. Chang's Mongolian beef, Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay biscuits or McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese and special sauce and this bacon mac and cheese that gets its richness from evaporated milk and chicken broth mixed with cornstarch, and the bacon bits spread out the smoky flavor throughout the dish without the added effort of cooking or the grease that comes when you make it fresh. This version has 6 grams of fat and 215 calories per one cup serving, compared to 12 grams of fat and 360 calories in a cup of Velveeta shells from a box.
Broccoli Bacon Mac and Cheese
There's no place where side (or bacon) are more revered than in the South, where “meat-plus-three” diners dot the landscape. I’m not sure if this mac and cheese laced with tender broccoli would count as one or two sides, but the pop of color and extra flavor the broccoli brings to the quintessential comfort food is a definite plus. Made on the stovetop, this recipe takes just 20 minutes. Oh yeah, it’s also topped with bacon!
— Marlene Koch
2 cups dry large elbow macaroni
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
3/4 cup low-fat evaporated milk
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt with parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
3 tablespoons real bacon bits
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccoli for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain, transfer back to the pot, and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Combine evaporated milk, broth, cornstarch, dry mustard, garlic salt, onion powder and black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat, and whisk it until it comes to a low boil and thickens. Turn off heat, add 1 cup cheese, and whisk until the sauce is smooth.
Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and broccoli and stir to combine, heating gently if needed to re-warm pasta. (If desired, transfer to a serving dish.) Lightly stir in or top the dish with remaining 1/4 cup cheese, sprinkle with the bacon bits and serve. Serves 6.
— From "What What You Love: Restaurant Favorites: Classic and Crave-Worthy Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat and Calories" by Marlene Koch (Running Press, $28)