Easy Homemade Low Fat Mac and Cheese With Three Fusion Variations

Posted on Tuesday, 15th July 2014

While most people are familiar with this classic comfort food from boxed versions that combine pre-packaged cheese powders with plenty of butter, making lower calorie mac using fresh, low fat cheeses is a lot easier than you might think. Making your mac from scratch also makes it easy to prepare some incredible variations that will feed your craving while tickling your taste buds.

A Basic Guide to Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

The three basic stages for making homemade macaroni and cheese include: cooking your pasta, preparing a cheese sauce, combining everything (along with some bread crumbs and extra shredded cheese), then briefly baking in a casserole or other oven-safe dish. For no-frills mac your basic ingredients for an 8-serving recipe are:

• 2 cups dry pasta
• 3 Tbsp. flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 cups low fat milk
• 8 oz. shredded low fat cheese, divided (about 2 cups)
• 2 oz. Neufchatel cheese
• 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
• Cooking spray

To prep the pasta, simply cook to an al dente finish, thoroughly drain, and set aside. At this point you will also want to coat your baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Easy Cheese Sauce

To make the cheese sauce, follow these simple steps:

1. Toast flour over medium heat for several minutes to create a basic dry roux.
2. Slowly whisk in milk until you get a smooth sauce. Make sure to eliminate any lumps, and keep stirring slowly but constantly over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken.
3. Reduce heat to low and add about two-thirds of the shredded cheese and the Neufchatel cheese until well blended.

Now you are ready to add the drained pasta. Mix until the cheese sauce thoroughly coats the macaroni, add salt and pepper to taste, pour into the prepared baking dish, and top with the remaining shredded cheese and breadcrumbs. Then bake the whole thing for about 20 minutes, or until you get a golden crust and a bit of bubbling.

Three Fantastic Fusion Mac Ideas

You can easily spruce up this basic cheesy pasta dish by adding special spices and toppings for a quick fusion fix:

1. Tex Mex Mac: add some cumin and cayenne to your dry roux mix. Just before baking stir in crumbled tortilla chips (instead of bread crumbs), chopped tomato or salsa, and green onion. You might want to consider substituting a light pepper jack or jalapeno cheese for some extra flavor flair.
2. A Thai Twist: to get a little taste of Thai, simply add some curry paste and use light coconut milk (in place of regular milk) when making your cheese sauce. Substituted sharp cheddar goes great with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil or cilantro leaves.
3. Great Greek Mac: combine sharp cheddar with oregano and fresh parsley. Just before baking stir in baby spinach, chopped olives, and cherry tomatoes.

Lighten Your Calorie Load Without Lowering Your Expectations

Today’s low fat dairy options make it easy for home cooks to reduce their calorie intake without giving up on the culinary comforts. Combining a dry roux technique with light cheese options and creamy Neufchatel spreads is a great way to transform your favorite fattening mac dish into low fat fare.

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