9 December 2013

* Vegetable Macaroni Cheese Bake {Meatless Mondays}

Just recently I tried the 5:2 fasting diet, where I could eat normally (hah...) for five days and only eat 500 calories for two days... in each week. My brain took it upon itself to totally ignore the word "normally" and proceeded to use my hands to stuff my face with anything that wasn't nailed down and was even vaguely edible... on the five days, and then it cried itself to sleep on the two days.

My bum and my brain are in cahoots, apparently they both want to be bigger and one is aiding the other. This is not a good thing.

So... having grounded my brain and forbidden it to associate with my bum... I've joined Weight Watchers... again. Fourth time might be the charm... might. I've already lost 5.5lbs in one week, but this could just be the whole "This is new and we're making an effort this week" thing that I do. I know I do this. It's a personality defect that I have grown to accept, if not love.

This Vegetable and Macaroni Cheese Bake is one of my better efforts at cutting out the cr@p and adding in loads of veggies. It is adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe, but I've opted to use butter and flour to thicken the sauce, rather than cornflour. Butter adds a smidgen of flavour that makes me feel like I'm not depriving myself. I also use my microwave in this recipe - but you can go all *holier than thou* if you choose and soften your veggies in a more traditional manner. This way worked for me.

It was a hugely filling meal and even if I don't stick to Weight Watchers, I will definitely be making it again. It was great straight from the pan, scattered with cheese, and just as nice baked in the oven for a few minutes.

Of course, I saved a few Weight Watchers pro-points for rather a large glass of wine to go with it. Made my brain very happy... if not my bum.

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Vegetable Macaroni Cheese Bake Recipe

Serves 2 (easily doubled for 4)

Prep time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 30 minutes
Total time - 40 minutes

You will need
A pot to cook pasta in
A pan to make sauce in.
Two microwavable bowls.
A Blankety Blank Cheque Book And Pen (80's TV reference, you don't actually need this. Honest.)

3oz/80g dried macaroni (or other pasta)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
9 fl oz/250ml skimmed milk
1oz/35g low fat cheddar - grated
1/2 red bell pepper - deseeded and diced
1/2 onion - peeled and chopped
5oz/150g frozen broccoli florets
4.5oz/125g asparagus - chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 oz10g low fat cheddar - grated - to scatter over the top

  • Preheat oven to 350f/180c/160cfan/gas 4.
  • Cook pasta according to packet instructions and get on with the rest while it's cooking.
  • Place the frozen broccoli in a microwavable bowl with 3 tbsps water, cover with cling film - pierce the top several times and cook for 4 minutes - set to one side (undrained).
  • Place the red  pepper, onion and asparagus in a microwavable bowl with 2 tbsps of water,  cover with cling film - pierce the top several times and cook on high power for three minutes - set to one side (undrained).
  • Return the broccoli florets to the microwave and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  • Drain all of the vegetables, and chop the broccoli slightly smaller if you desire (I did) - again, set to one side.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over a gentle heat and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Pour the milk in a bit at a time, whisking thoroughly throughout each addition until all the milk is in the pan.
  • Season well with a good pinch of salt and ground pepper, then simmer the white sauce very gently for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it - the sauce may seem fairly thin at this point, but it thickens up as you add everything to it.
  • Gently stir in the vegetables and the larger portion of grated cheese.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and stir that in too.
  • Spoon it all into a baking dish, scatter with the remaining cheese and cook in the oven until the cheese has melted and is turning golden - about 10 minutes.

NOTE: There's so much veg in this, that you're able to use a bit less pasta than normal, per person - but if you think you'd prefer more pasta - go for it, just make a bit more sauce to go with it.

This meal was 9 pro points per serving.


  1. Oh, Abbe, trying to watch weight this time of year is SO tiring! We've been on a binge eating everything in site for the last couple of months and I can't stop making heavy stuff for my blog. I support you in your WW efforts and hope you'll wear off on me! This baked pasta looks so blankety-blank good!! Love that you can still have a variation on mac and cheese and not break the calorie bank!

    1. Bill, I figure if I don't stop feeding my face with cake, come Christmas I'll explode all over the place and it won't be pretty... so trying for some moderation now and hoping it lasts through the holidays... thinking I haven't got a hope in hell though. I have met me.

  2. I'm beginning to like cheese a lot ~ you make everything look so good with it! ♥ ♥

    All the best on the weight-watching bit :)

  3. This seems so delicious and filling! Pinning it right now =]

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  4. Jeez, if we lived closer we could be the two Abbe's at Weight Watchers. I should go again but I'm not as brave as you. I'll wait until after the holidays!

    1. Hah! I wonder how they'd tell us apart ;-) I signed up online, Abbe - much easier and far more suitable for those with anti-social tendencies (me) :D

  5. I was very successful with Weight Watchers once, but that was many, many years ago and I definitely need to try it again. All of the carbs, sweets, and delicious fats like butter have all gone to my bum. That 5 days off and 2 days on diet sounds kind of crazy. Sure you didn't get those day numbers switched. :) It's very easy to gain back in 5 days what you lost in 2. Crazy! Great version of a mac & cheese. The perfect vegetables and I'm so glad you didn't sacrifice the butter!

    1. MJ, if I'd had the days the wrong way round you'd have been visiting me in prison! Being hungry makes me homicidal... hubby is usually the target ;-)

  6. I love mac and cheese and I love my vegetables so this is one perfect dish to me!

  7. I am on WW diet too, Abbe! We can cheer up each other.
    This Mac looks lovely and much healthier than the traditional one. I'll have to try it!!!!

    1. There was tons of it, Denise! I made Neil a macaroni cheese with bacon and onion, and for once he finished before me - even though he had more pasta. The vegetables really bulk it out :) Good luck with your WW :) xx

  8. Great dish Abbe, especially after all eating that we have been having...love it!
    Happy New Year my dear :D

    1. Thanks Juliana! - Happy New Year to you too xx

  9. I so wish we lived closer!!! Can I come stay with you for a few forevers.

    1. No - you'd drive me nutzoid ;-) ... but I do wish we lived closer xx

  10. Hi Abbe, The baked mac n cheese version is my fav too ! This is a terrific post! It's wonderful to see your each and every post. I simply adore your work ! And hope to see more of your creative endeavors soon ! Bookmarked this one and shall give it a shot :)) Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

    1. Hello Sonia, what lovely comments - thankyou! I'll be back to posting recipes very soon. A very Happy New Year to you as well :) xx


Thanks for dropping in to read my recipes (and ramblings). I love it when you let me know what you think - so please leave a comment and I promise to take the time to reply!

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