Saturday, November 6, 2010

It is truly winter—and that's snow joke.

I took that picture yesterday, and Jetta was definitely a sight for sore eyes. Snow—yes, the cold white stuff that makes travel unsafe and annoying—is officially falling here in Michigan. Thursday night's newscast indicated it might happen, but I chose not to believe it when I left for work sans boots, gloves or hat. Stupid. Snow is so stupid. Even if it is sort of pretty in that wintery, cozy way. But even then, I only truly enjoy it around Christmas during which I welcome as much of it as possible because, well...'tis the season. But after that, it can go away. Ugh, SNOW! I am not at all mentally prepared for wool coats, ice scrapers and salty grossness.

I am, however, prepared for meal plans full of warm and deliciousness. Because when it snows, I can't keep myself from savory soups and piping hot pastas. Like, for example, macaroni and cheese. But not the "cheesiest" kind you find on the shelf. I'm not much a fan of those. I like to make my own because it's usually healthier. And more fun.

"Wait," you think out loud, "how can pasta be good for you?" Well, it can. We actually do need a bit of carbs on our plate. They give our working muscles plenty of energy and can actually help break down excess fat. The trick? Those carbs on our plate have to be healthy carbs, which is why it's important to pick good pasta. Whole-wheat or whole-grain is best. And we have to control our portions—along with what we choose to eat with them.

"Right," you think again, "so how can macaroni and cheese be good for you? Isn't it full of fat?" To which I respond with the following recipe. This macaroni and cheese contains more protein and fiber than anything you'll find in a box. Plus, less fat. And it's just as cheesy.

Oxygen's Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz whole-grain pasta
2 cups low-fat, small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup shredded low-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 325F.
Boil a pot of water for the pasta, then cook it until it reaches an al dente state. Drain and pour it into an 8" x 8" glass pan. While the pasta is cooking, puree the cottage cheese and pumpkin in a food processor until smooth. Add it to the glass pan along with the cheddar and mix everything together. Top with breadcrumbs, then bake it for about 15 minutes. Top with freshly ground black pepper before serving (if desired).

Surprise! This macaroni and cheese contains pumpkin. Crazy, right? If that freaks your freak, don't worry. You can't even taste it, and to be honest—I found that to be a slight bummer. Nevertheless, it tasted great and was supremely lightweight in every sense of the word. I might, however, suggest adding a bit more cheddar. But taste test it yourself before giving that a go. Your taste buds work differently than mine.

Oh, and speaking of "lightweight," here's how this dish pans out nutritionally. It serves four, and each serving contains 425 calories, 11 grams of fat (4 of which are saturated), 657 mg of sodium, 53 carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 31 grams of protein and finally...3 mg of iron. Lotsa good stuff in that there dish, right?

Right, and on that note, I'll leave you for the day. But not before asking the all-important

Question: What do you think about Twitter? Do you use it? I'm wondering if that's another place where I should be sharing Daily Dose. Any thoughts? I really am interested in your feedback, so talk to me. Talk to me about anything, really. Any post, here or on Facebook. I love hearing from you!

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