7 Healthy Takes on Classic Mac and Cheese (That Adults Will Like, Too)
I don’t know about you, but just hearing the words “macaroni and cheese” brings on a kneejerk drool response similar to that of Pavlov’s dogs. When I was a kid, my mom would always get the boxed macaroni with the can of processed cheese included, otherwise known as “heaven in a box,” and my older sister and I would eat our first helping as fast as we could in order to fight over seconds. Ahh, the good old days, when my young metabolism could work off a day’s worth of calories before 10 a.m.!
Even though boxed macaroni is the easiest and fastest to make, it’s definitely not the healthiest or the most practical option for feeding the whole family. That’s why I went out to the wild, wonderful web to search for some delicious, nutritious mac ’n’ cheese recipes that would satisfy both kids and adults. If you read these seven recipes, be warned: you’re going to get hungry!
Fat-free or low-fat protein-packed Greek yogurt accounts for the “skinny” in this creamy recipe, but be sure to use a strong-flavored cheese like manchego or parmesan. Otherwise, the cheese sauce will taste too “yogurty.” Try Land O’Frost Black Forest Ham in a little oil until it’s crispy, and sprinkle it with some hot Cajun spice to give the dish a salty and spicy kick. Toss the cooked pasta in the cheese sauce, ham, tomato sauce, and barbecue sauce, sprinkle it with extra cheese, and bake for just 15 minutes.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. This dish by Eating Well uses just a few ingredients including whole-wheat macaroni, low-fat Parmesan, reduced-fat milk, flour, Dijon mustard and cheddar cheese. Prepare the macaroni and throw in frozen baby broccoli florets into the same water to save washing an extra pan. Drain the pasta-broccoli mixture and combine with the cheese sauce. You’re done!
Buffalo wings are one of my favorite meals, but they are SO fattening! This dish does contain high-calorie blue cheese, but there are enough healthy ingredients to bat away the guilt, plus this is another no-bake dish. Make the cheese sauce with non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, garlic powder, cheddar cheese, blue cheese and wing sauce. Prepare the macaroni and throw three cups of shredded carrots into the water towards the end of the cooking time. Drain the carrot pasta mixture and mix with Buffalo cheese sauce. SO much yum!
Two great tastes that taste great together? I’ve never thought about making a Mexican version of mac ‘n’ cheese, but this recipe makes me reconsider! Whisk together enchilada sauce, eggs, and evaporated milk and pour over prepared macaroni with butter, shredded boiled chicken, corn, cilantro and green onion. Fold in a mixture of Monterey Jack and American cheese and garnish with slices of avocado and chopped tomato. Olé!
I am absolutely obsessed with goat cheese, and lucky for me, it’s lower in fat and calories than most cow’s milk cheeses. I’m definitely going to try this simple recipe, which involves roasting the broccoli for about 10 minutes (after tossing in olive oil, salt and pepper), preparing the macaroni, and mixing both in a cheese sauce made from goat cheese crumble, butter, reserved pasta water and salt and pepper. You can serve as-is, or put into a baking dish and broil until slightly browned.
This macaroni recipe by Weelicious may seem better suited for St. Patrick’s Day, but once your kids move past the unusual color, they’ll want to eat it any day of the year! Put some iron- packed spinach in a blender with milk, make a roux, mix in the pasta and white cheddar, throw in some peas and chopped broccoli and bake for 20 minutes for a meal in one!
One serving of this dish by 24 Carrot Life has only 10 grams of fat and a whopping 22 grams of protein! Even though some people have a hard time with the texture of cold cottage cheese, it becomes creamy, like ricotta, when baked. A combo of low-fat and full-fat manchego cheese (sheep’s milk cheese) gives a zing of flavor that the cottage cheese can’t provide on its own. Mix the cheeses with the cooked pasta, Dijon mustard, egg, and salt and pepper, then bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Now that your mind is on mac ‘n’ cheese, what are you waiting for? Cut the calories and try one of these healthy, delicious mac and cheese recipes tonight!
And if you’re looking for more crave-worthy comfort food that ’s still good for youCheck out these recipe ideas