My first real food experiment comes courtesy of eat clean promoter and recipe provider, The Gracious Pantry. I decided to take on her Clean Eating Macaroni And Cheese dish after harboring some serious cheese cravings for a while now. The adventure was not without some hiccups, but it was mostly painless. Read on for the recipe, my experience, and my review at the end.
The Gracious Pantry’s Clean Eating Macaroni And Cheese (check it out on her page!)
I gathered my ingredients. I purposely picked a recipe that required to buy me as few ingredients as possible.
- * 2 cups uncooked, Great Value whole wheat elbow macaroni
- ** 1/2 cup Stonyfield organic whole milk
- *** 1 cup Seriously Sharp Cabot cheese
- 1/8(ish) teaspoon McCormick, ground mustard
- **** 1 tablespoon Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat flour
- Salt to taste
* If you’re paying attention, you may have noticed that the original recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked pasta and I used 2 cups of uncooked pasta, on account of being a genius. If you’re keeping track at home, that means I had a yield of approximately 4 cups of cooked pasta. This really didn’t seem to impact my dish overall, the end product was still plenty cheesy but if you’re in the mood for ALL OF TEH CHEESEZ, maybe still with 2 cups cooked (approx. 1 cup uncooked).
** I drink whole milk and avoid any food item that is described as “reduced fat”, “low-fat”, or “fat free” because it means the product has been through additional processing, defeating the purpose of eating products as close to their whole, original form as possible.
*** There was no natural shredded sharp cheese in sight at my local Walmart. Everything shredded was processed cheese product. I chose the added inconvenience of cutting up the natural cheese block over choosing fake cheese. Also, because Cabot makes the best cheese (and butter) in the United States.
**** The original recipe says whole wheat flour might work instead of whole wheat pastry flour. Since I’m frugal and didn’t want to buy a new ingredient when I have a giant container of whole wheat flour, I substituted. This didn’t seem to cause any issues, but then I don’t know what it would be like with pastry flour since I didn’t try it so I could be wrong.
I had a moment during the preparation where I realized I am a moron. I kept looking for the part of the directions that would tell me when/how to cook the pasta. As if I had never cooked pasta before. As if suddenly I couldn’t be trusted to understand that pasta was an integral part of this recipe’s success. I decided to wing it like a mad woman and cooked the pasta without being told to in the directions.
For timing’s sake, I boiled the water first and didn’t start making the sauce until after I had put the pasta in the boiling water. The timing was a little bit off because the cheese took longer to melt than if it were shredded, but overall it went pretty smoothly.
I cut the cheese into tiny blocks to help speed up the melting process when it was time for them to go to work.
Have I mentioned that I love Cabot cheese? And butter? Because I do. I really, really do. And that’s not just because I’m an Upstate New York transplant, missing the trees and the tie die shirts of the Northeast. It’s because it’s true. Hands down. Best in the country. Don’t even try to argue this with me because you’re just wrong. Cutting up the cheese block was well worth the effort to have an entire macaroni and cheese dish covered in Cabot cheese.
I even wrote this poem in honor of my love for Cabot cheese:
Cabot cheese, you are so yummy
Cabot cheese, get in my tummy
Cabot cheese, I love you so
Cabot cheese, You’ll never know
Cabot cheese, without you my life is incomplete
Cabot cheese, you are the cheese I always choose to eat
Please send all poetry-related fan mail to my agent, Chewy the Most Handsome Dog.
Like I said, it was a pretty easy process. You can see that the cheesy goodness covered the macaroni quite well even though I accidentally doubled the macaroni.
And I had a tiny, furry spectator the entire time. I dropped a noodle or two and this guy was on it like white on rice. Or brown on rice. Or Jasmine on — nevermind.
I give this recipe 4 out of 5 Chewys. It was really good, but it needs something a little extra next time. (Spices? Better quality noodles? I’ll figure it out eventually.)
This recipe is one that I would definitely make again. I loved it. David loved it. Chewy loved it. The family enjoyed it completely. I would love to try to play around with it some more by maybe splitting the cheese with half mild cheddar instead of sharp, and adding some spices like perhaps paprika as some other homemade macaroni and cheese recipes call for. I’ll probably cut the recipe in half next time though since I really can’t imagine enjoying the cheese:noodle ratio if I used the correct amount of noodles.
If you’re into a more typical, Kraft-flavored macaroni, I would recommend sticking with mild cheddar. Sharp cheddar work for us and taste amazing but don’t produce a taste that’s as close to typical boxed macaroni and cheese as many people would like.
I enjoyed this side dish that night with green beans and leftover chipotle chicken breast that I topped with guacamole. Since then I’ve also mixed it with a can of tuna, and had it as a side with a veggie burger and beans. There’s still quite a bit of it left since I made enough for a small army, hopefully I can think of some more creative ways to incorporate macaroni and cheese in my diet this week…
Numbers will vary based on ingredient brands/flavors etc.