Of all the "comfort foods" which human beings have concocted, you would have to search a long time for something more consoling than macaroni and cheese. Its very simplicity and ease of preparation has not only comforted but helped to keep body and soul together for many people, especially in difficult economic times. If your mother made this when you were growing up, you may have developed an emotional bond towards the dish (hence the term "comfort food"). In this, we are not alone -- according to my piano teaching cousin, baked macaroni and cheese was the hands-down dinner favorite of composer Ludwig von Beethoven! Some traditions are too good to scuttle, even in a nutritionally-conscious age and we shouldn't give up on this old favorite but today we owe it to ourselves to go for the healthiest options. The best choice is to simply make it yourself from scratch, thereby limiting the sodium content, banning fancy chemicals and preservatives, and possibly enhancing the nutritional value by stirring in chopped fresh tomatoes. A big pot or casserole of this homemade dish makes more economic sense too but we live in a busy world and have gotten used to convenience. Especially if you are eating alone, there may be times when you just want to yank something out of the freezer and heat it up in the microwave. Alas, this could be bad for us unless we pick the right commercial product. "Eating Right" Macaroni and Cheese may not be exactly like what your mother used to make but it is not bad, especially when served with a side dish of steamed vegetables, fresh tomatoes, or a green salad and perhaps fresh fruit for dessert. Of great importance is the fact that the team at Lucerne Products considers this **whole** ten ounces to be **one** serving which contains: 330 calories (including 70 from fat), 8 grams of total fat, 4.5 g. saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 25 mg. cholesterol, 770 mg. sodium, 46 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. fiber, 4 g. sugar, and 18 g. protein. This may not be something you should eat three times a day but ... **YOU COULD DO WORSE:** Stouffer's Red Box Macaroni and Cheese At first glance, the list of ingredients doesn't look too horrible (after all, you're not going to eat it every day) but look again. The ingredients listed are *per serving* but there are **two** servings in each 12 oz. package! Most people eat the entire product for dinner, thereby consuming: 700 calories (300 from fat), including 34 grams total fat, 14 g. saturated fat, 50 mg. cholesterol, 68 g. total carbohydrates, a whopping **1,840 mg. of sodium**, and .... oh yes ... 4 g. dietary fiber and 30 g. of protein. Admittedly, this product is delicious but if you have any survival instinct at all, you might want to stick with the "Eating Right" version which honestly tastes pretty good. **TASTE TIP:** All commercially prepared macaroni and cheese is better when it is baked a little longer until it has thickened and is bubbly golden brown around the edges. Also, the taste of most hot foods is enhanced by a shake of coarse black pepper. Unless you are allergic to it, a little pepper won't hurt you.
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