If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, I would choose Macaroni and Cheese. And I would be really happy – I don’t think I would miss other food. While my taste buds would celebrate, my pants would probably go on strike. As much as I love a ooey, gooey, carby mac and cheese, it does not love me back. But I’ve figured out ways around that. Like my Skinny Mac and Cheese, which sneakily replaces some pasta with hidden veggies. It’s hearty, cheesy comfort food with a healthy twist!
I recently shared that if I’m going to cut back on carbohydrates, I want all the fats. Well, since I’m accepting a little pasta here, I’ll let go of a little fat, too. And I was surprised to find out that mac and cheese can actually still taste good while slashing some calories. No, it’s not nearly as good as pure mac and cheese – let’s be real. But it’s a hearty, yummy alternative that can hold you over between cravings.
Even into adulthood, I would always say the best mac and cheese came from a box and was orange. You could not convince me otherwise. A small sliver of me still believes that. But, I grew to appreciate baked macaroni and cheese as a separate entity – still worthy of love. And this Skinny Mac and Cheese has a lot of those wonderful things going on, including the crunchy, baked topping. Yum!
Mmmmm…cheese. And I do have to admit that I can’t claim these veggies are fully hidden, since, well, broccoli. But you can feel free to swap in whatever veggies you or your family prefer. The point is, you’ll be getting double the veggies as you will pasta – and that’s a win.
Skinny Mac and Cheese would be perfect for a meatless Monday! I serve it with a side salad for a pretty complete and filling meal. It would also be great as a side dish to a roasted chicken or beef. Either way, leave the guilt in the cheese powder packet, and enjoy yourself some real food!
- 8 ounces dried rotini pasta (whole wheat and/or high fiber)
- 8 ounces cauliflower (cut into small florets)
- 8 ounces broccoli (cut into small florets)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flower
- 2 cups skim milk (I use Fairlife milk for lower sugar content)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 cups low fat cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese (shredded)
- 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 inch by 13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.
Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta, cauliflower, and broccoli and cook until al dente (about a minute or two less than the directions for the pasta). Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden. Then, add milk and broth slowly, while whisking (to keep it smooth). Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, whisking regularly, until thickened (it should lightly coat the back of a spoon).
Add paprika and Dijon mustard until combined. Then, remove from the heat and add the cheddar and mozzarella, stirring to combine until melted and smooth.
Stir in the cooked pasta and vegetables. Then, pour into the prepared casserole dish. In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan and breadcrumbs, and spread evenly on the top of the mac and cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until bubbling. Turn the oven to broil for a minute or two until the topping becomes crisp (careful not to burn).
For 1/8th of recipe (about 1 cup): Calories 309 ~ Total Fat 13 g ~ Saturated Fat 7 g ~ Trans Fat 0 g ~ Cholesterol 33 mg ~ Sodium 791 mg ~ Potassium 282 mg ~ Total Carbohydrate 32 g ~ Dietary Fiber 4 g ~ Sugars 3 g ~ Protein 21 g