Healthy Mac and Cheese
Healthy Mac and Cheese is the comfort food you have been craving! It’s so creamy and decadent, and is filled with whole wheat macaroni, veggies, and a rich, cheesy sauce. It's lower in calories and fat than your typical mac and cheese recipe, but still super satisfying and absolutely delicious!
Servings: 6 servings
- 8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles (2 cups)
- 10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli or fresh broccoli florets - cut small
- 10 oz bag of baby spinach or baby kale optional
- 2-3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1¾ cups 1% milk divided
- 3 tablespoons All Purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½-1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ¼-½ teaspoon Dijon mustard omit if you don't like the flavor of mustard
- ⅛-¼ tsp crushed red pepper optional
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Add frozen (or fresh) broccoli to a pan over medium heat, saute with minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt until slightly tender. Add kale/spinach towards the end and cook until the greens are wilted.
Meanwhile, heat 1½ cups milk in another large pot over medium-high heat until just simmering. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup milk, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture to the simmering milk; return to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in Cheddar, Parmesan and mustard until the cheese is melted.
Drain the pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Add your veggies into the pasta mixture, and heat through (on low heat) until everything is combined.
Optional: Sprinkle some black pepper on top before serving.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
There are so many ways to mix up this healthy mac and cheese recipe! Here are a few of our favorites mix-ins and substitutions:
Top Tips For Making Healthy Macaroni and Cheese
- Change Up The Veggies: Try shredded carrots, peas, finely chopped cauliflower, roasted butternut squash, or caramelized onions.
- Add Some Heat: In addition to crushed red pepper, try adding some hot sauce for an even bigger kick!
- Try New Spices: Everything bagel seasoning, paprika, nutmeg, onion powder, or oregano all taste great with mac and cheese.
- Try A Different Cheese: Instead of sharp cheddar and parmesan, try gouda, gruyère, cream cheese, brie or goat cheese.
- Make it Vegan: Use a plant based milk, and your favorite dairy free cheese.
- Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten free or legume based pasta. The legume based pasta will also give you added protein!
- If you decide to use a different cheese, make sure it’s a cheese that melts well. That is where the mac and cheese get its creaminess.
- You can use fresh or frozen broccoli, and they both work well.
- Be sure to whisk constantly, so the cheese sauce mixture doesn’t burn and stick to the pan.
- Mac and cheese tastes best when it's served immediately, since that is when the sauce is at it's creamiest point!
- For the best cheese sauce, buy a block of cheese and grate your own! It melts much better than the pre-shredded variety.
Calories: 268.1kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.9g | Protein: 14.1g | Fat: 6.3g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 18.4mg | Sodium: 544.9mg | Potassium: 233.4mg | Fiber: 6.5g | Sugar: 5.3g