• 3/4 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (found in most grocery stores or your local Asian market)
  • 1/3 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¾ cups fat-free milk
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Fill a large pot three-fourths full with water and add a pinch of salt. Cook macaroni until al dente.

2. Melt butter in a sauté pan and add panko breadcrumbs. Season with pepper. Keep stirring over medium heat until golden brown. Let cool and add first 1/3 cup of Cheddar until combined.

3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low to medium heat and stir in flour, stirring for 3 minutes. Whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer. Whisk occasionally for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 ½ Cheddar, mustard, thyme and pepper. Remove pan from heat.

4. In a large bowl, stir together macaroni, chicken stock and sauce. Transfer mixture to baking dish.

5. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and cheese mixture evenly over macaroni and bake in middle of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Tips:

Made with whole wheat macaroni, reduced-fat cheese and fat-free milk, a single serving of this hearty dish is packed with protein, fiber and almost as much calcium as a glass of milk!

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