The standard baked macaroni and cheese recipe is simple enough -- and most people like it. But, there might be times you find yourself out of flour and butter, which are used to thicken the sauce. You might also want to make a mac and cheese that isn't so heavy, either by cutting the amount of fat you use or reducing carbohydrates. Butter and flour can be substituted with other ingredients in a mac and cheese recipe.
Several different types of fat can stand in for butter when you make the sauce for macaroni and cheese. Use an equal amount of each fat in place of butter. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter, use 2 tablespoons of margarine or oil. Using a plant-based oil, such as olive oil, will reduce the amount of saturated fat in the recipe. If you use margarine and are concerned about fat content, choose a brand that does not contain trans fat.
Starches can take on the role of flour when thickening sauces. You might choose to use starch in place of flour if you are making a gluten-free version of macaroni and cheese. Along with not containing gluten, starches, such as cornstarch, are also typically better at thickening, meaning you need to use less of them. If you are trading flour for cornstarch, use half as much cornstarch as you would flour. Other starches you can use include arrowroot, potato starch and tapioca starch.
You can trim the fat from a baked macaroni and cheese recipe in other ways, along with trading butter for margarine or plant-based oil. Instead of using full-fat milk or cheese, use a reduced-fat version. Because you are thickening the sauce with starch and fat, you will likely not notice the reduced fat cheese or milk. You can add thickness to the dish by substituting some of the grated cheese for low-fat cottage cheese. Another option is use low-fat yogurt instead of butter and flour. Use 1/2 cup of yogurt instead of the butter and flour called for in the recipe.
A More Healthful Dish
Along with cutting fat and carbohydrates, there are a few more ways you can make a healthier baked macaroni and cheese for your family. If you can use wheat-based pasta, choose a whole wheat variety so the dish has more fiber. You'll want to choose a whole grain, gluten-free pasta if you can't eat regular wheat pasta. Try stirring some steamed vegetables into the mac and cheese before baking, too. You can substitute some of the pasta for broccoli or cauliflower, for example, or stir in a few cups of baby spinach into the mix.
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.
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