10 ways to make a healthy mac and cheese


healthy mac and cheese

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When ranking the best things life has to offer, mac ‘n cheese falls somewhere between puppies and cuddling. Unfortunately, all that pasta and cheese adds up to a ton of calories and fat, and very few beneficial nutrients. These recipes give you unhealthy mac and cheese a makeover by subtracting some of the high-calorie, high-fat ingredients and/or adding some healthful components. 


1. Greek yogurt mac 'n cheese

Not only is this recipe from Cooking Ala Mel incredibly easy to make, but it’s also got the probiotics from Greek yogurt and vitamins from spinach. You’ll need whole-wheat elbow pasta, cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt, fresh spinach, onion powder and garlic powder. 


2. Skinny baked broccoli mac and cheese

Think you’d win the lottery before coming across a mac ‘n cheese meal with less than 350 calories per serving? Think again. Skinnytaste did the impossible with this delicious baked broccoli mac ‘n cheese recipe that even uses breadcrumbs to achieve a super yummy crispy topping. 


3. Squash ‘n macaroni ‘n cheese

Mac ‘n cheese just got all fall-ified. This recipe from The Healthy Foodie adds broccoli (or spinach), buttercup squash and walnuts in this twist on the traditional comfort food. It also uses Greek yogurt for a healthier way to attain that creamy goodness that’s so essential to this dish.


4. Quinoa spinach mac ‘n cheese

Switch out the pasta for protein-packed quinoa with this recipe from Bakeaholic Mama, which also adds some leafy greens to the traditional roundup of ingredients. We love the crispy panko breadcrumbs on top. 


5. Lightened-up mac and cheese with cauliflower

Cauliflower can do anything. In this case, it helps add a healthy aspect to hearty, creamy mac ‘n cheese, which Eat Yourself Skinny makes with reduced-fat Parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar, fat-free cream cheese, fat-free half and half and some Italian breadcrumbs.  


6. Roasted vegetable mac 'n cheese

This mac ‘n cheese from Skinny Muffin is loaded with vegetables: broccoli, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini and carrots. Sounds like a great way to get kids — or stubborn significant others — to eat their veggies. 


7. Avocado mac and cheese

We’ve written about this one before, but it was just too perfect for this list to not include it. This stovetop avocado mac and cheese from Two Peas and Their Pod isn’t going to help you cut back on calories, but the avocado adds some vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients to your meal. Plus, it makes this pasta dish extra creamy.


8. Pumpkin mac ‘n cheese

Because you, the people, demand that pumpkin be in everything, we introduce pumpkin mac ‘n cheese, from Family Fresh Cooking. It’s a stovetop recipe that only takes 18 minutes total and uses cheddar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, sour cream, Parmesan, cinnamon and garlic salt. We recommend swapping out the sour cream for Greek yogurt. 


9. Healthified broccoli mac-n-cheese

This extra creamy mac ‘n cheese recipe from The Skinny Fork clocks in at only 339.6 calories and 10.6 grams of fat per serving. How, you ask? The recipe creator threw in some cauliflower — which, she swears, no one even noticed — and used some reduced-fat chicken broth, in addition to the fat-free milk, to get the creamy consistency. 


10. Spaghetti squash macaroni and cheese

If you can sub spaghetti squash for spaghetti, you can sub the stringy squash for macaroni too. This recipe from Football, Food & Motherhood uses cheddar, spaghetti squash, green onion, frozen peas (or another veggie of your choice), some flour and Parmesan.