The Lunch Bunch: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

asweatlife_The Lunch Bunch- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese_1

I want to get straight to the point this week … this butternut squash mac and cheese is the I don’t think I’ve seen a bigger smile from my boyfriend since Christmas morning than when he sat down to be my taste tester last Sunday!

As we’re easing out of the holidays, this is the perfect week to reinvent a favorite comfort food into healthy, guilt-free meals. We have discussed our New Year’s resolutions and goal setting, now the hard part has actually set in … we have to follow them! For me, making the leap back into my normal routine is the toughest part. This recipe is a great kick-start back into healthy meal planning because it is simple and gives you the same satisfaction of those (not-so-healthy) family recipes that you may have splurged on throughout December. Both nutritious and delicious – nothing beats that!

This mac & cheese is a winner because it is high in protein and will give you an abundant amount of beta-carotene, a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant that your body converts into Vitamin A.

I was originally inspired to make this recipe from a post in Cooking Light. The recipe was created by another RD back in September of 2011, so I decided to bring it back to the surface with some minor tweaks! What is most impressive – how much fat and calories are cut by omitting the cream based sauce found in most homemade macaroni dishes (known as béchamel) and substituting this with nutrient-dense squash. The squash is so buttery that you would never miss the fat! The cheeses in this recipe are also extremely rich, allowing us to use a lesser amount while maintaining a powerful flavor.

So here we have a vegetarian, gluten-free, Vitamin-A packed, mouth-watering meal with half the calories and fat as a full cream-based macaroni and cheese. Now simply remember, immediately split this into your appropriate lunch portions (1 ½ cups max serving size) so you’re not tempted to eat half the pan at once!

Happy grocery shopping.

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asweatlife lunch bunch butternut squash mac and cheese

Grocery List:


  • 1 Butternut Squash, medium
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • 1 Cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Finely Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, divided


  • Nonfat milk
  • 0% Greek Yogurt (Fage)


  • 1 box gluten free noodles (I used quinoa based elbow noodles)
  • Vegetable broth, reduced sodium
  • Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, parsley

Optional add-ins:

  • Broccoli
  • Rotisserie chicken – shred chicken and mix into the leftovers!



  • 3-4 Cups Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed into 1” squares (about 1 medium squash)
  • 1 ¼ Cups Reduced Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 ½ Cups Non-fat Milk
  • ¼ Cup Plain, 0% Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1 Garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Finely Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, divided
  • 1 box gluten-free noodles
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine squash, vegetable broth, milk, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 20-25 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat.
  3. While the squash is simmering, cook the pasta according to package directions (omitting the added salt and fat). Drain.
  4. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add Greek yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour blended mixture into a large bowl; stir in Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and ½ of the Parmigiano-Reggiano until melted.
  5. Gently fold in pasta to squash and cheese mixture. Spread evenly into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish lightly coated with olive oil.
  6. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.
  7. Remove from oven and turn oven to a low broil. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over macaroni. Return to the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese has browned and a few noodles are crisp.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately and pack up the rest for this week’s lunch. Enjoy!
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About Patty Duffey

Patty is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach in the Chicago area. She is Ohio bred and received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics at Miami of Ohio, while continuing on the following year to complete her Dietetic Internship at Mount Carmel Hospitals in Columbus. Upon becoming an RD, Patty made the remarkable decision to work abroad in Australia for one year. She loved the active and healthy culture, and it seemed that most Aussies shared a common view that is was better to be proactive as opposed to reactive when it came to health and wellbeing. She knew that the health and fitness industry was exactly where she wanted to be. Since moving to Chicago three years ago, Patty has gained experience as a dietitian and nutrition coach at both Life Time Fitness and My Fit Foods. Her goal is to continue to build her health coaching skills as a nutrition entrepreneur. She currently works at Lululemon and loves working for a company where she can bring fitness and nutrition together in such an inspiring environment!