Pumpkin Mac and Cheese from the AICR Kitchen


The good people over at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) have a fantastic nutritional program at work, an evidence-based program designed to contribute to lowering one's risk of developing cancer, driven in part by Dana Jacobi (visit her Amazon author page here).

This time we're presenting Jacobi's twist on the ol' mac and cheese plate, Pumpkin Mac and Cheese. The AICR sees pumpkins as a nutritionally hard to beat food:

"Pumpkin is rich in carotenoids, particularly alpha- and beta-carotene, and one-half cup of unsweetened canned pumpkin provides three times the vitamin A in the FDA’s recommended value. Relatively low in carbs, a half-cup of canned pumpkin contains 4 to 5 grams of fiber. Plus you get all this for just 40 calories in one half-cup serving."

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese – Classic Version

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 8 oz. whole-wheat rotelle pasta
  • 1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (2 1/2 oz.) sharp light (50 percent) Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg, optional


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 6cup baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

To breadcrumbs, add 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Add oil and using your fingers, toss to coat breadcrumbs, then set mixture aside.

In large pot, boil 4 quarts of water. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes, until slightly al dente. Drain in colander, and set aside.

While pasta cooks, in microwave or small saucepan, heat milk until it steams, and set aside.

In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking slowly. Off heat, gradually add milk while whisking to avoid lumps. Return pot to medium-high heat and simmer sauce until it thickens to consistency of stirred yogurt, 3 minutes.

Add cheese, remaining Parmesan cheese, pumpkin, mustard, black and cayenne peppers and nutmeg, if using, and stir until cheddar melts. Mix in cooked pasta. Spread mac and cheese in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle seasoned breadcrumbs over top.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 289 calories, 9 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 37 g carbohydrate, 17 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 307 mg sodium.

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