Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

As you may know, I’m a custard mac and cheese guy. My great grandmother and my mom made it that way – so, that’s the way it is.
Problem being, as with so many older family recipes, a key ingredient is fat… KEY ingredient. Clara’s Mac & Cheese tips the scales at just under 950 calories per serving. That’s overkill (in anybody’s book) when it comes to a side dish…. or by my current calorie allotment, an entire meal… and a snack.

The other day, my sis sent me an email with the Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese attached and only one word on the page… “Yum!” Okay, … interesting – maybe, … a novelty twist on a standard – sure, … but “yum”?
I had to check it out.

Granted, the linked recipe (I’ll give you the link at the end of the story) tipped the scale at 390 calories per serving (425 by my count), so it really wasn’t all that dietary. And other than being an artful way to “hide” vegetables from your children (which I find a true disservice to your children… I’ll get to that rant later), I really didn’t see the need in scrapping my calorie laden, custard y, creamy, cheesy goodness for something less than that.


Mom had a heart attack earlier in the summer, and in getting her back on the road to recovery, I’ve taken over her diet management.

So, I wanted to see if I could:

A – Make the Mac & Cheese Lactose Free
B – Adjust the proportions to make it creamier
C – Cut the calorie count to under 250 per serving

and doing all that and still making it … well, Yum!

A Word on Lactose Free Cheeses

You may remember, several of my family members are severely lactose intolerant – meaning any lactose, no matter how minute, it going to have long lasting adverse effects on them. Finding tolerable substitutes and lactose free cheeses has been an adventure. I’ll give you a break down of what we have been able to find. Swiss Gruyere AOC – 100% Lactose Free
Aged Swiss – Read the Label, most are lactose free if they are imported.
Pecorino Romano 
Fully Mature Reggiano Parmesan 
Finlandia Cheese – All are naturally lactose free
Cabot Cheeses – The Very Sharp and Seriously Sharp Cheddar are Lactose Free
Tofutti – Makers of Tofu Based Cream Cheese and Sour Cream Substitutes
Lactaid – Makers of Lactose Free Milk, Cottage Cheese, and Sour Cream – (Availability for the CC and SC are sketchy, at best)
Heini’s Yogurt Cultured Cheeses – All are lactose free, but they all have other savories added. They would be a decent substitute for pepper jack.

The Original Recipe can be found at CookingLight.com… or by clicking here.

By my calculations, I was able to get the calorie per serving to 155 per 1 cup serving. But, allowing for my heavy-handedness with the cheese, the actual end product  rounded out at 227.

Butternut Squash 
Mac and Cheese
Serves 6

1 Medium Butternut Squash (About 3 Cups) Peeled and Cubed
1 1/4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 1/2 Cups Lactaid Whole Milk
1 Clove Garlic
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
10 Scrapes of Fresh Nutmeg (or about 1/4 Teaspoon)
2 Tablespoons Tofutti Sour Cream Substitute
1 Cup Shredded Gruyère Cheese
4 Ounces Grated Pecorino Romano (that’s about 1 Cup)
1/4 Cup of Fully Mature Parmesan (divided)
3/4 Pound Cavatappi – Uncooked
1/2 Cup Panko
2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
Large Mixing Bowl
9″ x 13″ Baking Dish
Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 375°
Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat
Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper and Sour Cream Substitute.
Blend until smooth. Be careful to start the blender on stir or the lowest setting  – Hot liquids and whirling blades – a whole lotta panic going on there.
Place blended squash mixture in the mixing bowl and stir in Gruyère, Pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Stir until combined
Cook pasta according to package directions in unsalted water
Add pasta and parsley to squash mixture, and stir until combined.
Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray
Toss the panko with the remaining Parmesan and sprinkle over the pasta mixture
Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned and the pasta bubbling
Remove and serve immediately

7 thoughts on “Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

  1. @createwithmomI keep telling people I can't believe how good it was. And a bonus, the leftovers can be reheated by adding just a little chicken stock to the pan to bring them back to their sublime creaminess

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