Family Fave: Healthy Southern Mac & Cheese

Our family gets on crazy kicks where we want to eat the same dish (not nightly, but at least once or twice a week) until our craving is satiated and we're "over it" for a while. One these oft-craved kicks (that we're also currently on) is Southern-style homemade *healthy* mac & cheese.

What?! "Healthy" + ("Southern-style" + "cheese") = impossible ...Right??? Au contrair, mon ami!

My cooking style is "Paula Deen light" - I can't help but try to "healthify" everything. I'll be the first to admit, it doesn't always turn out, but this one's a winner!

FYI: "Southern-style" mac & cheese is more like a baked custard casserole; not a liquidy, gooey, free-form pile. [I assume most people know that, but *just in case*...]

Here's my version:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cook a box of pasta (any shape - elbows are obviously traditional, but we ran out last night, so I used penne; love the high fiber penne from Trader Joe's and Dreamfields & Barilla Plus elbows) in water *that's as salty as the ocean*!!!

[Sidebar: my biggest pasta pet peeve is pasta cooked in water that is not properly salted! It tastes like glue w/o enough salt in the water; and no, you cannot salt the pasta properly AFTER it's cooked. I love the way Mario Batali puts it: "pasta water should be as salty as the sea!" Keep tasting to make sure you have salted enough, and if you salt too much, just add more water.]

Drain the cooked pasta and put it in a casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle some shredded cheese - as little (1/2 cup?) or as much (2+ cups?) as you want of your fave variety (we use 2% Mexican blend) - and mix it with the hot pasta.

In a bowl, mix:
1 can evaporated milk (I use fat free)
5 egg whites (or egg substitute; or 3 fresh whole eggs)
several shakes of ground mustard and salt
pinches of cayenne and freshly grated nutmeg
(and whatever other spices & flavorings you'd like.)
Pour this egg/milk/seasoning mixture over the cheesed pasta in the casserole dish. Top with a little more cheese, and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. (Check to make sure the egg base has set up solidly.)

This is the ONLY dish my kids will EVER choose over pizza. :-D (My favorite part is the crunchy top layer. ;-)) We tend to go very low on the cheese, so it's almost more of a savory noodle kugel or a pasta quiche. Whatever you call it, it's DELICIOUS and not as bad for you as the traditional. The kids & I actually prefer this version; greasy mac & cheese makes my stomach turn! BLECH! Feel free to also add whatever else you'd like to this base - mixed veggies, chicken, etc. Mmmmmm...


  1. oooh this is perfect! I may have to make this next week and add some chicken and spinach to it or something! YUM!!!

  2. All I can say is YUM! And wow! I didn't know that about the salty water. I will try that next time! Thanks!


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