Wednesday, October 21, 2009 1/3, but it’s a REALLY good one.

[First, a disclaimer: I realize the photo quality on this blog thus far is not what you’d expect from an industry-standard food blog. After an unfortunate snorkeling accident, I’ve been left with just my iPhone to take pictures. However, I bought a new digital camera today, so things should get better once it arrives.]

A few weeks after I started Weight Watchers (down two more pounds this week!), I discovered Hungry Girl (HG). The basic premise of her website is that she is a chick who likes eating (hence the name---get it?), but she also likes not being fat. Her website is filled, among other things, with helpful suggestions for “swaps,” in which you trade the fattening and points-heavy version of a common food for something that’s better for you, but still tasty.

I have spent the week preparing the various HG recipes that jumped out at me. Onion rings. Butternut squash fries.

Look great, no?

Well, no.

Both my attempts at HG swaps came out burned, withered, rubbery, and just not tasty at all. I’m willing to attribute this to perhaps an increased cooking speed in my oven (I followed her suggested cooking times), and I may try them again with modifications, but in general I was disappointed with my results.

I was almost reluctant to get back on the Hungry Horse, but I just couldn’t resist trying HG’s version of Mac & Cheese. I adore mac & cheese, but it’s very points-heavy (9 points a cup for just the Kraft Blue Box...don’t even ask me about a real M&C casserole). HG’s version was just 4 points a cup, so if there was even a slim possibility that it would not come out tasting like bathwater, I was probably going to work this recipe into my weekly routine.

Thankfully, HG hit it out of the park with this one.

The M&C was incredibly easy to make, delicious, hearty, and had the perfect mix of ingredients. I was skeptical of the cauliflower, and I was skeptical that extra cheese (the laughing cow wedges) were needed. However, after having tried the cheese sauce without the laughing cow, I can safely say that the wedges added a wonderful thickness and creaminess that tasted a lot like the M&C I get at some of my favorite bars and BBQ restaurants. It’s rich, thick, and cheesy. REAL cheesy, too, not chemical cheesy. Is it possible I’m just delirious from dieting? Maybe. Is this stuff good enough to feed to my boyfriend, who is not on a diet? Definitely.

I’m copying HG’s recipe below. I made a half recipe, since I’m just once person and my grocery store doesn’t sell family-sized bags of Green Giant veggies. I also added a dash of paprika for a bit of a different flavor. Served with steamed broccoli and a Gorton’s grilled fish fillet (2 points).

Hungry Girl’s Mac & Cheese

  • 1 package Green Giant Family Size Cauliflower & Three Cheese Sauce (freezer aisle) [Family Size is 24 ounces. I used one 10 oz. package]

  • 2 cups uncooked Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Rotini Pasta (or another whole-wheat or whole-wheat-blend pasta) 
[I used 1 cup]
  • 3 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese [I used 2 wedges]
  • Optional: salt and black pepper, to taste [I added paprika]

Prepare pasta according to the instructions on the box, and then drain well and set aside. While pasta is cooking, place contents of the cauliflower & sauce package in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave for 12 - 16 minutes, until sauce has melted and cauliflower is hot.

Once the bowl is cool enough to handle, remove it from the microwave and add cooked pasta. Set aside. Unwrap cheese wedges and place in a small microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth, and then add to the bowl.

Mix thoroughly, ensuring that the Laughing Cow cheese is evenly distributed and the pasta and cauliflower are coated in cheese sauce. If you like, season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

MAKES FOUR 1-CUP SERVINGS [Mine makes two]

Four weight watchers points per serving!! That’s about 200 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, at 5g of fiber.

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