healthy mac and cheese

Healthiest Mac n’ Cheese

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Also note: While I am a certified nutrition coach, I am not a medical doctor. Information here is not intended to be a replacement for the advice you should seek from your doctor.

Traditional Mac n’ Cheese is Not Nutritious

Traditional mac n’ cheese is heavy! It traditionally has lots of saturated fat, poor quality pasta, and very little nutritional value. Some mac and cheese is even totally processed. Aside from the convenience, boxed mac and cheese is even worse. However, sometimes you crave that home style, comforting cheesy 🧀 goodness. Mmmm… I’m salivating just thinking about it. 😋

Now, I’ll get off my high horse 🐴. Honestly, from time to time I make the kids boxed macaroni and cheese. I feel guilty every time. If you even have 30 minutes to cook, you can cook this healthy alternative mac and cheese. I can guarantee the healthy to tasty ratio of this recipe is the best on the net.

Trying to get your kids (or husband) to eat some vegetables? It’s hard to avoid the cauliflower and broccoli in this dish, but so tempting even for the vegetable adverse. It may even turn your family into broccoli fans! 🥦

What Makes This Mac n’ Cheese Healthier?

There are a few modifications I have made in this recipe to make it much healthier than a traditional mac and cheese. For one, I put real aged cheese in this dish. Aged cheese is better because it is lower in lactose and has a richer flavor. The reason a richer flavor is preferable is that you don’t have to use quite as much as traditional mac and cheese. A little aged mac and cheese goes a long way to give a this pasta dish it’s gooey, cheesy goodness.

This healthy mac and cheese has non-fat, plain Greek yogurt. This both enhances the creaminess as well as adds a little more protein. Protein helps slow digestion of the carbohydrates in the pasta which helps you stay satiated longer and prevent large fluctuations in blood sugar. Preventing large fluctuations in blood sugar helps with weight loss and maintenance, by the way! I love using non-fat, plain Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream or heavy cream in recipes. It makes for a great dessert with berries, as a sour cream replacement on a baked potato or taco, as the base for a veggie dip with ranch seasoning, and many other uses.

The bulk of this healthy mac and cheese are veggies! And you can’t even tell that you are swapping out a lot of the pasta for broccoli and cauliflower. If you don’t believe me, you should try it! In addition to swapping some of the pasta for vegetables, I chose a whole wheat elbow macaroni. Whole wheat macaroni has more fiber than a refined flour macaroni.

I hope this healthy mac and cheese recipe revolutionizes your approach to mac and cheese going forward! It’s not too hard to make a mac and cheese that is lighter and packed with more nutrition, with no detriment to its taste. You will enjoy this mac and cheese as a complete meal, quick and easy for any weekday evening. Please let me know how it goes, both in the kitchen and with family!

Please let me know how this recipe goes when you make it! Post a picture and tag one of the below social media accounts:

healthy mac and cheese

Healthiest Mac and Cheese

Yum
Looking for a lighter, healthy mac and cheese? Look no further! This mac and cheese rivals it's traditional counterpart AND it's nutritious!
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 279 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Pot
  • Sauce Pan
  • Colander

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 oz Gruyere or Gouda, shredded
  • 3 oz Sharp Cheddar shredded, aged is best
  • 2 crowns Broccoli chopped into small florets
  • 1 head Cauliflower chopped into small florets
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Elbow Macaroni Dry
  • 1 cup Milk 2% or skim
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt plain, fat free
  • 3 tsp Spicy mustard or deli mustard
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Flour whole wheat or all purpose

Optional Toppings

  • More cheese Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere. This makes it heavier and more fatty!
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Paprika

Instructions
 

  • Bring large pan of water to boil.
  • Add elbow macaroni and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add all of the veggies and allow to cook for an additional 7 minutes, or until pasta and vegetables are cooked.
  • Drain pasta and set aside.
  • Heat saucepan over medium with olive oil.
  • Add garlic to saucepan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Turn saucepan down to low. Add milk and allow to heat.
  • When milk is hot enough to melt cheese, add both the sharp cheddar and gruyere shredded cheeses. Add seasonings and tablespoon of flour.
  • Stir consistently until all cheese has melted and mixed with the milk and the sauce has thickened.
  • Pour elbow macaroni and veggies back into pot or in a serving dish. Mix in cheese sauce.
  • Mix Greek yogurt into pasta and cheese sauce (Greek yogurt goes last because it coagulates in heat).
  • Serve in a bowl with any optional toppings listed. Enjoy with less guilt!

Notes

Nutrition Facts
Servings
6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories
279
% Daily Value *
Total Fat
13
g
20
%
Saturated Fat
7
g
33
%
Monounsaturated Fat
3
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
0
g
Trans Fat
0
g
Cholesterol
34
mg
11
%
Sodium
606
mg
25
%
Potassium
281
mg
8
%
Total Carbohydrate
27
g
9
%
Dietary Fiber
4
g
15
%
Sugars
5
g
Protein
17
g
33
%
Vitamin A 31
%
Vitamin C 74
%
Calcium 71
%
Iron 1
%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs.
The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 17gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 606mgPotassium: 281mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5g
Keyword American, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cheese, Healthy, Kid-friendly, Lunch, Nutritious, Pasta, Vegetarian, whole food
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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