BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC ‘N CHEESE - NUTRITIONAL FAKE OUT

This recipe works really well with kids, picky eaters and foodies alike. I love the challenge of getting my husband, in this case, to eat a wider variety of vegetables. This mac n' cheese recipe came out of "how am I going to get him to eat butternut squash?" Butternut squash is not only good, naturally sweet and good for you, it is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese.

I figured the less cheese in the mac n' cheese, the less fat. It just so happens that the natural color of the squash is orange and I can fake like it's the loads of cheddar cheese that has made the dish orange! Clever, right? They will never know! My nephew (very picky eater) has no clue and thinks my mac n' cheese is the best!

Here's the recipe:
• Cube up the butternut squash and place on foil-line baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on it.

• Roast in 400 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until squash is soft and caramelizing.

• On the stove, sauté chopped onion and celery with fresh rosemary and sage in a tablespoon of butter and a little olive oil until onions are caramelized (if you don't have fresh, sprinkle onion and celery with poultry seasoning).

• Add roasted squash to pan. Sprinkle squash/onion mixture with two tablespoons of flour (to make a roux). Cook flour and veggies for about a minute or two, add chicken stock to pan and incorporate flour until sauce is thick (about two cups of stock for this step – can add more after pureeing mixture).

• Puree squash mixture with hand blender or in food processor. Return to stove and adjust thickness of sauce by adding skim milk (if too thick). Add salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg at this point to taste.

• Boil whole wheat pasta – such as bow ties, penne, rotini, shells – whatever you like. Boil it to “al dente” (almost done but still has a small bite to it). Drain pasta.

• In large bowl, add pasta and sauce – toss until pasta is coated. Add in half cup of shredded cheese (whatever cheese you like).

• Pour pasta into greased casserole dish (I spray with PAM). Top pasta with a mix of Italian bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the top coating of cheese/bread crumbs gets nice and toasty.