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10 ounces Pipe Rigate Pasta
15 ounce can Pure Pumpkin Puree
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 cup, chopped Onion
1 clove, minced Garlic
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1/2 cup Pasta Water or Milk any milk will do
1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese

My Healthier Version of Mac N Cheese

    • Serves 4
    • Medium


    Have you gone to Starbucks yet to get your Pumpkin Spice Latte? No? Guess you’re not in the fall spirit just yet then. To be honest, I’m not one to redecorate for halloween, the fall, spring or any of that. I also am not including fall spices and pumpkin into everything that I eat or drink…have you tried pumpkin on its own? It doesn’t really taste like much and certainly does not elevate the flavor of any dish until you dump in a ton of spices. You are probably now wondering why the heck I even made a recipe post about pumpkin at all, right? Well, since I constantly try to make my beloved comfort food dishes healthier and cut out salt and fat as much as possible, pumpkin comes in handy this time.

    Traditionally, mac and cheese includes butter, flour, and whole milk to make a rue; that white sauce that gets thick by adding cheese, lot of cheese – oh and salt, lots of salt. The pumpkin in this instance replaces that sauce and also gives that ‘cheesy’ taste without having to add a lot of cheese, umm yes please!



    Preheat Oven

    Preheat your oven to 375F and bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. While the water comes up to a boil, heat up a large non-stick skillet on medium heat and add 1 tsp of coconut oil. You can use any type of oil, though I assure that you will not be able to taste the coconut at all. Add the chopped onion and sauté on medium-low until translucent. Next, add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Open your can of pure pumpkin puree an add it to the onion & garlic. Stir, then add 1 tsp of dried thyme (sage is also great!), about 2 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper.


    Cook Pasta

    By now, the water for the pasta should be boiling. Add about 2 tsp of salt to the water then add the pasta. Cook the pasta (uncovered) 2 minutes less than the suggested time on the box. The pasta should be very al dente as it will continue to cook once in the oven with the sauce.


    Finish The Sauce

    Ok, back to the pumpkin sauce. Add about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and give your sauce a stir. I bought a block of white, sharp cheddar cheese and grated it myself with a box grater. Cook on medium low heat until the pasta is done cooking.

    With a slotted spoon, add the pasta directly from the water into the pumpkin sauce and stir. To thin out the sauce a bit, add about 1/2 cup of pasta water or milk. I added about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and 1/4 cup of almond milk. Stir the pasta in the sauce so that all of the pasta is well coated in the sauce. If the sauce still looks too thick add a bit more pasta water or milk, start with 1 tbsp and add more if necessary. The pasta water is great for sauces as it contains the starch from the pasta and is already slightly seasoned from the salt was added earlier.



    Grab an oven safe dish and spoon in the creamy pumpkin mac and cheese. Top with about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and the breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven at 375F for 25-30 minutes. The top should be browned and the sides might bubble a bit (depending on how shallow your dish is).


    Serve With A Green Salad

    This mac and cheese can be served immediately and devoured! I served my mac and cheese with a arugula, red leaf lettuce and golden raisin side salad. The peppery arugula and sweet raisins are a great compliment to this mac and cheese.

    If you give this recipe a try, I'd love to see a picture! Post it on your Instagram or Twitter and use #foodbyjonister.


    Hi guys, so glad you are here! My food blog is about healthy, colorful, and easy recipes. I grew up in Germany and have been in the states for over 12 years now. Currently, I am living in sunny Miami, FL! Please leave me a comment if you have questions or recipe requests and also follow me on Instagram and Twitter via @foodbyjonister. Happy cooking and eating!

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