Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and it’s not hard to see why. It’s warm, creamy, filling, and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, it’s also chock full of fat and carbs that won’t do your health any favors – especially if you’re on a diet. Don’t fret about it, though. All you need is the right recipe to keep mac and cheese on your Thanksgiving menu.
Does It Really Matter?
It might not surprise you to hear that mac and cheese isn’t exactly considered to be the healthiest dish. As a matter of fact, many doctors will tell you to avoid it if you’re trying to lose weight or have concerns about your overall health. That’s because a traditional mac and cheese recipe usually packs a wallop when it comes to carbs, sodium, and fat.
Depending on how the dish is prepared, one cup of mac and cheese can have almost 700 calories, 23g of fat, and over 600 mg of sodium.
Your best bet for enjoying your favorite comfort food is to make a healthy version of it. The recipe you’re getting today cuts this down to 244 calories, 4 ½ g of fat, and 258mg of sodium. You definitely don’t want to reach for the boxed stuff if you’re looking for healthy options!
Your Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe
12 oz fusilli or elbow pasta
1 ½ tbsp butter spread
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk of choice
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups shredded cheddar, or vegan cheddar
12 oz fresh broccoli florets
2 tbsp grated Parmesan or nutritional yeast
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta and broccoli together, according to package directions for al dente.
- Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a large, heavy skillet, melt the buttery spread, then add the onion and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute or until the flour is golden and well combined.
- Whisk in milk and broth, raise heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil, then cook for an additional 5 minutes or until smooth and thick.
- Season with salt and pepper if desired. Remove from heat, add cheese, and stir until melted.
- Stir in the cooked pasta and broccoli, then pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Top with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan or nutritional yeast.
- Spray a little more cooking spray on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden.
How Mac and Cheese Can Be Good For You
The great thing about mac and cheese is that a few substitutions can make it good for your health without