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Spinach Mac & Cheese 

Makes 8 Servings

$0.83 per serving (As of December 2012)

When busy moms serve mac & cheese for lunch or dinner, nobody complains! Though this dish is popular with families, it’s not exactly one of the healthiest options out there. To add better nutrition to this quintessential favorite, we gave it a makeover by switching to whole wheat elbow pasta (no worries, the kids won’t notice) and low-fat milk and cheese and by adding one of nature’s most nutritious vegetables: spinach.

One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed

One 13.25 ounce box whole wheat elbow pasta

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

One 8-ounce package shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (2 cups)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Drain the spinach in a colander. Press with the back of a large spoon to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

2. Cook the pasta until almost tender. Drain and set aside.

3.  While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Whisk the flour, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the onion mixture and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the milk, broth, soy sauce, and mustard slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese and spinach until well combined. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish. Top with the Parmesan cheese and bake until bubbly and the top turns golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  370 calories, 12g fat (4.5g saturated), 550mg sodium, 48g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 21g protein, 100% vitamin A, 40% calcium, 15% iron

Tip: If you prefer a sharper cheese flavor, use just 4 ounces of reduced-fat Cheddar cheese and replace the rest with 3 to 4 ounces of shredded Gruyere.

Tip: To streamline this recipe a bit, skip the Parmesan cheese and the baking dish and serve the gooey pasta straight from the pot.

Spinach Mac & Cheese 

Grocery List

Be sure to check your pantry before heading to the store!

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

One 13.25 ounce box whole wheat elbow pasta

Extra virgin olive oil

All-purpose flour

Black pepper

Vegetable broth

Reduced-sodium soy sauce

Dijon mustard

1% low-fat milk

One 8-ounce package shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (2 cups)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach

Recipe courtesy of Meal Makeover Moms.

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