Macaroni and cheese in its traditional, gooey, cheesy baked form with a crunchy bread crumb topping is a favorite indulgence of many. Unfortunately, it's also one of those foods that is truly an indulgence: it provides very little nutrition and it's loaded with unhealthy fats. Traditional mac and cheese is something best enjoyed on rarer occasions. However, if you'd like to make a mac that's more nutritionally fulfilling, less fattening, and more friendly to a weekly menu, here are a few great ways to do it!
1. Switch to whole grain pastas
One of the simplest, yet very effective changes you can make to your diet is switching from refined grains to whole grains! Whole wheat pasta adds additional fiber and other nutrients that have been stripped from pasta made with refined flours. Also, being a more complex carbohydrate, your body will spend more energy and time breaking it down than it would normally.
Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower from Serious Eats
2. Choose lower-fat milk and cheeses
Traditional mac and cheese requires rich full-fat whole milk. Instead, to help lighten the load, try using skim milk or another low-fat milk (and possibly adding a bit of chicken broth in as well to add flavor and richness). In addition to choosing lower-fat cheeses, you could also swap out part of the cheese with cottage cheese instead! You'll get an extra creamy texture, without losing the flavor.
The Ultimate Mac and Cheese from Jo Cooks
3. Add Greens
To increase the nutritional value of your mac, try adding spinach, swiss chard, or kale! They are all excellent options to add a ton of great nutrients and vitamins to your diet, they're easy to add, and it may encourage all kinds of vegetable-averse folks to get a least some greens into their menu.
Monterey & Macaroni With Spinach & Roasted Tomato from Food52
4. Add in more vegetables, whole or pureed
Obviously, adding more vegetables in general to your mac and cheese will help give it a nutritional boost too! Certain vegetables, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes, are excellent to add into your macaroni through a pureed form - it adds to the creaminess of the sauce without being overwhelming. Cauliflower and broccoli are also excellent additions to add to your macaroni whole.
Sweet Potato and Spinach Macaroni and Cheese from Naturally Ella
With these tips, you can make a healthier change to your favorite mac and cheese recipe or try out a new recipe altogether! Eating with health in mind takes time, and keeping these tips in mind is one firm foot in the right direction.