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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Recipe: Lightened Up Mac & Cheese with Bacon + a Secret Ingredient!

Lightened Up Bacon Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin | healthy, low fat, low calorie, gluten free, clean eating

I've got a confession to make....

I'm not always honest with my husband.

Now, before you start offering couple's counselling, it's actually for his own benefit.... now that sounds like I'm an addict self-justifying my problems, but it's actually the truth...

The only thing I'm not always honest with Jesse about is food. 

You see, I married a Southern man who has verrrrrrrrrry specific ideas about food. He doesn't cook it, but he has these ideas in his head of exactly how its made. I discovered this early on in our relationship when Jesse refused to try chilli that had tomatoes in it because he didn't believe that chilli had tomatoes in it. 

Why? Because he'd never seen anyone make it :P When I asked him how you made the sauce for chilli he told me "well, it's just meat.... and chilli.... the meat makes the sauce". Yahhhhhhhhhhh-no. 

Low Fat Bacon Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin | healthy, low fat, low calorie, gluten free, clean eating

The same thing has happened with a million other foods so I've just learnt to serve Jesse food without telling him how it was made. Jesse will try a food and assess it on taste - but as soon as you give it a name of something he's familiar with, he'll judge that blueberry pie against the one he got from an old lady with round spectacles in a store by the highway next to a cow paddock. 

I married a man who couldn't tell you what he did yesterday - but he can remember eveeeeeeeeeeeery little detail about food :P 

But back to today's recipe.. This Bacon Mac and Cheese is a recipe I've been making for ages and one that Jesse requests over and over and over again - but it actually has a secret. In fact, I've probably made it 30 odd times and Jesse never even pondered the thought that there may have been something out of the ordinary. 

A few weeks ago, I revealed the secret of his favourite mac and cheese. 

The reason why it's so cheesy and delicious and the ingredient to thank for the fact that the sauce coats every single piece of pasta? Butternut pumpkin... or butternut squash if you're from across the pond ;)

A little bit of pumpkin puree is the very reason why this mac and cheese is sooooooooooo very good - and the reason it feels insanely decadent whilst being low fat and super simple to make. 

But enough yapping from me, let me share with recipe with you so that you can try it for yourself and see what all the fuss is about! >>



Healthy Bacon Mac and Cheese with Pumpkin | healthy, low fat, low calorie, gluten free, clean eating

Lightened Up Mac & Cheese with Bacon + A Secret Ingredient! 
serves 1, easily multiplied for a few or a crowd! 
low fat, gluten free, clean eating friendly, vegetarian/vegan/dairy free options

1 serve of your favourite pasta (gluten free if needed), cooked according to package instructions
2 tbsp (40g) reduced fat cream cheese 
2 tbsp (40g) pumpkin puree* (see notes for options)
~1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1-2 pieces short-cut bacon** (or regular bacon or leave it out if you prefer!)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: fresh parsley for additional flavour
  • Cook your bacon in a small pan (or in the saucepan you've used to cook your pasta and are about to use for your sauce to save cleaning up!) the way you like it, flipping to ensure both sides are cooked evenly. Take your bacon out of the pan, chop it as desired and set it aside ready to use later.
  • Once you've cooked and drained your pasta, add all of your sauce ingredients into a small saucepan with about a tablespoon of water (or milk) and heat over a medium heat. 
  • Stir your sauce mixture, allowing everything to melt together and heat through.
  • Season your sauce mixture to taste and add in your cooked pasta and bacon. 
  • Stir to incorporate everything and serve immediately, topped with additional cheese/bacon if desired.

Notes:
*We usually use either regular pumpkin or butternut pumpkin puree. You can make it yourself by roasting/boiling and pureeing peeled pumpkin - or use canned pumpkin puree. We always have a few cans of this organic pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree on the cupboard for a quick and easy option. You can also use sweet potato puree (either homemade or canned/packaged) as an alternative!
**Shortcut bacon is just the lean part of the bacon - it's lower in fat and we prefer it, however, you can use whichever bacon you prefer

Vegetarian/Vegan/Dairy Free Options
Vegan: substitute the cream cheese with tofutti/vegan cream cheese and replace the parmesan cheese with either nutritional yeast or a vegan cheese. Leave out the bacon or switch it with a vegan alternative.
Lactose Free: use lactose free cream cheese & a lactose free cheese alternative (parmesan is low-lactose, however, some people with lactose issues can't tolerate any lactose whatsoever so choose what works for you)
Vegetarian: leave out the bacon or switch it with a vegetarian bacon alternative.

But tell me, do you keep food secrets too? What are some of your secret ingredients?
I'm a little bit cheeky and do things like add zucchini into spaghetti or chilli, add mushrooms into beef mince or use beans and avocado/pumpkin/sweet potato in baked goods :P 

5 comments:

  1. I love mac and cheese! We don't make it often, since it's not exactly health food, so a lightened up version is a great idea! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  2. I've said this before and I'll say it again, your Jesse and my Wade sound very similar in their food personalities and ideas towards foods...Ha! I will have to be sneaking in ingredients very soon when I'm cooking for the two of us on a regular basis when our long distance relationship ends this June.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just made this with bow tie pasta..it was quite easy and fast and very good too! Thank you!

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  4. Yay for the ending of your long distance relationship soon!! How exciting!! xx

    ReplyDelete

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