My father makes macaroni and cheese (or me if I’m hosting) from scratch for the Christmas holiday meal, using the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook.
The New Best Recipe is one our family’s all-time favorite cookbooks because, being the science geeks that we are, we love that the authors explain in great detail the process they go through to test each recipe, and how the “best” recipe is selected from all the different variations attempted.
In fact, I received this cookbook as a Christmas gift from my father after we all fell in love with their macaroni and cheese recipe the year before. I use the cookbook also to prepare other holiday meals too- the turkey recipe is stellar. Sometimes, because the mac and cheese is so good, we serve it on New Years Eve too!
“Best” according to them does not mean the healthiest recipe though! And, if you have family members, like we do, that have medical conditions that require diet restrictions, it’s polite to accommodate their health needs as to not exclude them from the holiday meal celebration. Therefore, we make my own healthier variation of this mac and cheese that still tastes great!
4 best homemade mac and cheese make-over tips:
1. Use as many organic ingredients as possible, especially the dairy ingredients. This may even make it taste better because I find that organic products have more flavor in general.
2. Use whole grain bread for the bread crumb topping and whole grain pasta instead of white pasta. This bumps up the fiber content and gives the dish an earthy body.
3. Add veggies like peas or broccoli (the cookbook contains a variation with peas and ham).
4. Use 2% milk and reduced fat cheese instead of whole milk and whole fat cheese. Don’t cut back on the quantities of the milk and cheese though because this will change the dish entirely and will have negative effects on the outcome.
The young children (and adults alike!) in my family look forward to eating this mac and cheese every Christmas and usually don’t want to eat anything else all night, so it’s important to add a little bit of green. I do this by adding the peas or broccoli.
With these healthier changes, this is a better “best” recipe in my book!
Do you have a holiday dish make-over recipe? Please share your healthy variations to your family’s favorite meals by commenting on this post.