Meat-Free Mondays: Healthy Mac and Cheese

August 20, 2012

Sometimes you just need a big bowl of mac and cheese – but who needs the fat and calories that go with most recipes? We’ve got a great secret for turning this comfort food classic into a guilt-free indulgence (without sacrificing the flavour!)

How we’ve made it healthier:

* Replaced heavy bechamel with a mix of Greek yoghurt and low-fat cottage cheese – you still get a rich, creamy taste without all the fat

* Used extra-sharp Cheddar to amp up the cheesy flavour without adding more cheese

* Added vegetables for more nutrients

* For an even healthier version, use whole wheat pasta


2 cups cauliflower florets, cut up into bite-size florets

250g macaroni or penne

1 pack frozen spinach, thawed

1 3/4 cups low-fat milk

3 tablespoons plain flour

2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup low-fat Greek yoghurt

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs or panko

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Few sprigs thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 215C. Lightly oil a lasagne or large baking dish with olive oil.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and macaroni and cook pasta until al dente. Do not overcook as the pasta will continue cooking in the oven. Strain the cauliflower and pasta together, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.

3. Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar until melted, then stir in Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

4. Combine the breadcrumbs or panko with the olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Set aside.

5. Toss the macaroni and cauliflower with the cheese sauce. Stir through the spinach. Season with salt to taste. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the seasoned breadcrumbs over the top. Top with Parmesan.

6. Bake until Parmesan is melted and golden, 10-15 minutes.

Which comfort food dish would you like to see made healthier?

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