Posted 2 months ago

Eat Well, Live Well – Perfect Pumpkin Mac N Cheese


– Canola oil cooking spray
– ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
– ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 8 ounces whole-wheat pasta
– 1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 1½ cups (2½ ounces) sharp light (50% reduced fat) cheddar cheese
– 1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
– ½ teaspoon mustard powder
– ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
– Pinch of cayenne pepper
– ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 6-cup baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, and toss to combine. Set mixture aside.
3. In a large pot, boil 4 quarts of water. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes, until slightly al dente. Drain in colander and set aside.
4. While pasta is cooking, heat the milk in a microwave or small saucepan until it steams, and set aside.
5. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking slowly. Remove from heat and gradually add the milk while whisking to avoid lumps. Return the pot to medium-high heat and simmer the sauce until it thickens to consistency of stirred yogurt, about 3 minutes.
6. Add cheddar cheese, pumpkin, mustard, black and cayenne peppers and nutmeg (optional), and stir until the cheese has melted completely. Mix the cooked pasta into the cheese mixture.
7. Spread the mac and cheese in prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb-Parmesan-cheese mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Brenda Gridley, CSP, RDN

Brenda is originally from Los Angeles, CA where she attended California State University of Los Angeles for her under graduate degree in Nutritional Science. She began her career with Kaiser Permanente in 2004.    Throughout her professional development, she has worked in Cardiology and open heart surgery, Renal/Dialysis, organ transplants and Oncology, including chemotherapy, radiation and head and neck.  Brenda has extensive experience with weight management programs, including Bariatric and finally Eating disorders and mindful eating.  She went on to specialize in the Pediatric population and has maintained her Certification in Pediatric Nutrition since 2011.  Areas she has managed include pediatric and neonatal intensive care units where she was responsible for individualizing therapeutic diets and alternate nutrition support  based on specific metabolic needs, medical conditions, and cultural preferences.

Her passion for nutrition was developed at a young age and reared by her grandmother who always instilled the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.  When her grandmother became ill, Brenda became aware of the impact nutrition plays in disease prevention and maintaining overall mind and body health.  She cared for grandmother until she passed and has made it her goal to help others achieve their full “nutrition potential” with using a culturally sensitive holistic approach.

She is married with two beautiful daughters and in her spare time she enjoys watching movies with her children, experimenting with new recipes, reading mystery novels, running and Yoga.

Please ask your Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers provider for a referral to see our dietary counselors.