I am LOVING Fall this year! After desert dwelling for the past 7 years, I am soaking up every little bit of the season that I can – leaves changing color, cooler weather, breaking out the sweaters, and pumpkin spice & salted caramel everything!
Aaaand this is the time of year when I shift my eyes from grilling everything I can get my hands on to baking (this week was orange zucchini bread and cream cheese-filled pumpkin spice snickerdoodles), roasting, and slow cooking all kinds of warm and cozy comfort food.
Which brings us to mac & cheese, obviously.
Holy cow, I love this stuff. And, really, what’s not to love about it? It’s pasta and cheese, people! All good things.
But, because of all of that lovely pasta and melty cheese, it is also usually super high in calories and fat, which means small portions (big thumbs down) that don’t fill me up.
The solution? Add more vegetables! The kind that are sneaky and you can’t really tell they’re there, but they still give you all of their wonderful health benefits.
This creamy mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food made healthier and more satisfying by using whole wheat pasta with an added vegetable boost from roasted butternut squash. And, bonus – it’s a one pot meal (yay for less dishes!).
The slow cooker does all of the work, so you can get on with your life and still have a delicious homemade meal on the table at dinnertime!
The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and dicing the butternut squash, which I do this way. This can even be avoided by buying the bags of ready-to-use squash (unless your store runs out like mine did….drat), so you just have to throw it straight into the slow cooker!
Serves 6-8 servings
- 1 medium (~4 cups) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 5 c. low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 (13.25oz) box uncooked whole wheat macaroni
- 8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
- 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add squash, onion, garlic, broth, and spices into slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
- Blend with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a regular blender) until smooth.
- Add pasta and cook on high for 30 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.
- Add salt and pepper and stir in cheeses until melted.