Healthy macaroni cheese

12 July 2012

Macaroni cheeseExcess saturated fat in the diet can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, so check food labels and try to choose ingredients that are lower in saturated fat content.

Traditional macaroni cheese is made with butter, whole milk, Cheddar cheese and Parmesan, all of which push the saturated fat content up to a huge 28g per portion. Try this healthier version instead: as well as slashing the saturated fat content by 75 per cent, it is made with wholemeal macaroni, which increases the fibre content. It also has added spinach and tomato to create a super, simple and healthy supper dish.

250g macaroni

40g olive oil based spread

40g plain flour

500ml semi-skimmed milk

4 large handfuls of baby-leaf spinach

4 tomatoes, sliced

2 heaped tbsp half-fat creme fraiche

150g grated half-fat Edam

2 heaped tbsp Quark or very-low-fat soft cheese

25g grated Parmesan

Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 8-10 minutes), then drain well and set aside. Melt the spread in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir to form a paste, cooking for a few minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time.

Cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to hot and grill the sliced tomatoes for a minute on each side. Remove the sauce from the hob, add the Quark and creme fraiche and two-thirds of the Edam, and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the macaroni to the sauce and mix well. Transfer half the mixture to a deep ovenproof dish. Place a layer of spinach and sliced tomatoes on top, then cover with the remaining macaroni mixture.

The heat of the mixture should be enough to wilt the spinach. Sprinkle over the remaining Edam and the Parmesan and place the dish under the hot grill. Cook until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Calories: 526 Fat: 4.38g Saturates: 1.70g Total Sugar: 6.33g Salt: 0.32g