Thursday, July 28, 2011

Requested: 'Healthy' Cheeseburger Mac Recipe

Can you picture it? That moment when you're on a diet and you offer to make something for someone, and they want the fattiest, most unhealthy thing from your recipe box?

*cue slasher noises*

Pretty scary, eh? That's what I was faced with last night! One of the recipes I'm known for is my cheeseburger macaroni. Since changing my eating habits, I haven't been eating that type of food at all and I had never stopped to consider if I could make it healthier than how I used to make it. After posting about this on Facebook, I got a lot of people who were interested in the recipe, so here we go!

First off, let's start with the hamburger aspect. I used to use 85% lean hamburger meat in this recipe. Let's compare some nutritional facts:

85% Lean Ground Hamburger (Raw)(100g)
Calories: 215
Protein: 18.5g
Fat: 15g
Carbs: 0g

I changed to Lean Ground Turkey to make a huge difference:
Lean Ground Turkey (Jennie-O brand)(112g)
Calories: 120
Protein: 26g
Fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 0g

So, you're getting less calories for a bigger serving size, more protein, and much less fat. Pretty amazing, huh? The ground turkey doesn't have quite the same taste but if you season it, you'll get a good flavor from it!

Let's move onto the recipe, and then I will breakdown the calories for you and why I choose what I did!

Wendy's Nearly Healthy Cheeseburger Mac
Serves 4-6

15-16oz of Whole Wheat Pasta
Just over 1/2lb of extra lean ground turkey (around 290g)
2 tablespoons of light margarine
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of skim milk (wouldn't recommend nonfat)
2 cups of Cabot Reduced Fat Cheddar, shredded
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan-Romano blend
2 tablespoons of Worcheshire sauce
4 tablespoons of yellow mustard
1/4 cup of ketchup (make sure there's no corn syrup, that pushes up calories)
Garlic powder, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Chili powder, if desired
*Edit: This was suggested by my godsister: Use Montreal Steak seasoning to season the ground turkey while cooking it!*

Begin a rue over medium heat in a saute pan of the flour and butter (equal parts flour and butter) until you have a creamy paste. Add the milk and bring to a low boil. Slowly stir in the parmesan and shredded cheddar, and keep stirring until visibly melted. Reduce heat to below medium. Keep stirring every minute or so to keep the sauce moving. Do not allow the sauce to boil. After 5-10 minutes, add the worcheshire, half of the mustard, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and italian seasoning. Continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes. If the sauce is to your taste, add the rest of the mustard, ketchup and onion powder. Once the sauce is smooth and evenly melted, reduce heat to low and let sit. The sauce should be a light burnt orange color.

Begin your pot for the pasta and cook according to package instructions. In the mean time, lightly spray a pan with cooking spray and cook the ground turkey on just under medium heat. Keep the meat moving; it's very lean so it will burn if it sits too long. Season with salt and pepper and a little chili powder, if desired. Once the meat is fully cooked, reduce the heat.

Drain the pasta, put into a serving bowl and slowly pour the cheese mixture over top. Mix. Then add the cooked ground turkey and stir again. Serve, and enjoy!

Here is what I did to make the meal healthier:
- Whole wheat pasta for lower calories and more healthy carbs, and the increase in fiber and nutrients
- Skim milk for lower fat and calories
- Ground turkey for lower fat, more protein, and less calories
- Reduced fat cheddar for lower fat and less calories
- Light margarine for less fat

Let's do a breakdown of calories now! This is for the entire meal.
Whole wheat pasta: 1470
Ground turkey: 312.5
Margarine: 90
Flour: 56
Skim milk: 180
Cheddar: 300 (estimated)
Parmesan: 240
Worcheshire: 10
Mustard: 0
Ketchup: 80
TOTAL: 2,738.50

That sounds like a lot right? Except there's approximately 6 servings in the lot... so what are your total calories per serving (approximately 3oz servings)?
Calories: 456
Fat: Roughly 9g (!!!!! in macaroni and cheese?!)
Protein: Roughly 20g

I think that's pretty awesome considering how unhealthy my old version was! If you're interested in comparing, keep reading:

These are estimates, but I want to see how many calories I saved.
2 boxes of Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese: 2560
1 lb. of ground hamburger: 860
Parmesan (added): 240
Ketchup: 180

I'm just gonna stop there because that's already a total of 3,840 calories, without the milk you have to add! Per serving that would be 640 calories. By doing this, I have reduced the serving size by 184 calories, and a lot of fat! Bear in mind that my old recipe made more, but I would eat more of it so my serving size was probably more like 800-900 calories, and a ton of fat... we're not going to even talk about the sodium content in the prepared mac and cheese dinners!

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy this and try out the recipe yourself! Take your time with the cheese sauce and let it develop it's flavors. Add more seasoning if you need to, there's no calories in pepper!