Looking to make mac and cheese healthy? Grab these 7 hacks and serve it up tonight without the guilt. With these tips you could have healthy macaroni and cheese every night and never have the same thing twice.
Ask most kids what they want for dinner and mac and cheese will be in the top 5. It’s such a kid friendly staple – cheese and noodles?
It really doesn’t get much better for most kiddos. But the problem is with no alterations, it’s one of the least health-conscious meals when homemade. Delicious? Duh. Healthy? Ehh..
How to make mac and cheese healthy
With this in mind, I’ve been looking for ways to make mac and cheese healthy. Both of my boys can inhale a single box of boxed macaroni and cheese in one sitting, and when I make it from scratch they put down even more.
Here are some genius ways to make macaroni and cheese healthy so that you can confidently serve dinner without the drama or guilt.
Try subbing some of the cheese with cottage cheese. So if your favorite recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded cheese, sub .5 -1 cup with cottage cheese, which has less fat and more protein to increase the nutritional value.
Veggie puree for healthy mac and cheese
Of course I’m suggesting you sneak some veggies in. While making your cream base (milk added to your roux, but you haven’t added the cheese) add .5-1 cup of veggie puree.
Cook it down for a few minutes before adding the cheese in. Carrot puree adds so well with yellow cheddar while cauliflower works with white cheddar.
Related reads: Learn how to make vegetable purees here!
Mix in a Vegetable
Probably my favorite way to make mac and cheese healthy, mixing in a chopped veggie is always a great option.
Try blanching spinach and shocking them to keep the green color before stirring the drained greens into almost complete mac and cheese.
I also love blanched broccoli or frozen peas. You can even add frozen peas, carrots, or corn as a way to cool down your mac and cheese before serving.
My favorite veggies to add to make mac and cheese healthier
- frozen peas, corn, carrots
- Broccoli, blanched
- Spinach, blanched
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced peppers and onions, sauteed for a fajita mac and cheese
Lighter Sauce for making healthier mac and cheese
Try making the sauce a bit lighter. This might mean less cheese and more milk to make the sauce on the pasta thinner. While thick cheese sauce is obviously delicious, it also means more fat and calories sticking to each bite.
Substitute some of the milk and cheese in your cheese sauce for whole milk yogurt or, if you don’t mind some tang, Greek yogurt.
You’ll get the protein and probiotics from the yogurt without sacrificing the creaminess or thickness of your favorite cheese sauce.
Healthier pasta option for macaroni and cheese
A super simple way to make mac and cheese healthy is to start with the pasta!
There are so many pasta options out there now that just switching out normal white pasta can make a huge impact.
Whole wheat pasta is always a simple, filling switch, but also look at veggie pastas, bean based pastas, or lentil based pastas to add more protein and nutrition to mac and cheese.
Here are some really great options for alternative pasta to make healthy mac and cheese –
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- Banza Pasta Chickpea Pasta
- Bellabondonza Organic Green Bean Spaghetti
- Chickapea Red Lentil Pasta
- Ancient Harvest POW! Quinoa Pasta
It’s not impossible to make boxed mac and cheese healthy too. Make sure you check out my other post, how to make boxed mac and cheese healthier to get some tips next time your kids make a request!
Okay so tell me – do you feel more confident about making mac and cheese healthy now? Let me know in the comments!