The classic grilled cheese gets a grown up twist! Your favorite party dip is now…
“Hidden Vegetable” Light Mac & Cheese
Shhh! It’s a secret! This is definitely not your standard mac and cheese! It’s packed full of vegetables, low fat cheese and high-fiber pasta! There’s no need for the butter and flour because this mac has so much more…and it’s better for you!!!
I’m going to go on the record and say I am 100% aware of the fact that this is not your southern grandma’s secret family recipe…or better yet, KFC’s amazing mac and cheese. The difference is that you’ll feel a million times better about eating this from start to finish when you see everything that’s in it.
It’s not the leanest mac out there but definitely a lighter version with my secret ingredient of VEGETABLES!!! Duh! Of course! I’m not willing to compromise all the cheesy components of the classic side dish, therefore, I didn’t. There’s still several types of cheeses represented in this dish and they all work well together.
Mac and cheese is a cheat day craving that hits home many many many times. The real deal is worth the splurge. In this scenario, you’re kids are picky about what they want for dinner…they need veggies…it’s mid week…you know it’s either hot dogs or chicken nuggets and a side…so you pull out this recipe. Or even better…you made it ahead if time.
I also have to say I would prefer this recipe fresh from the oven but it works as a leftover too! It’s just easy to keep around and kids will adapt to the fact that it’s pasta with cheese. What’s not to love?
Mac and cheese CANNOT be hard! It’s just a matter of making it the way you want it. This recipe is perfect for those who enjoy mac and cheese more often than not but could use a less-guilty form of this recipe. It’s still has tons of cheese and a creamy coating. It’s not overly healthy but, damn, I felt awesome eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Seeing that it’s not overly saturated with cheese and fat, it still works for a healthy side. With a few extra steps it saves calories, cuts fat, boosts fiber and gives you pure happiness about mac and cheese again!
- 4 medium carrots peeled, roughly chopped
- 2 medium parsnips peeled, roughly chopped
- ½ medium head cauliflower roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-1¼ cup low sodium vegetable stock
- ½ cup low fat or fat free heavy cream
- 8 ounces low fat cream cheese
- ½ cup low fat milk or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 8 ounces low fat or reduced fat cheddar cheese or white cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 pound macaroni pasta low carb or high fiber
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt plain
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg optional
- ¼-½ cup Parmesan cheese shredded or grated
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Prep and roughly cut the carrots, parsnips and cauliflower. Toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes until slightly tender and remove from oven.
- In a large pot, add roasted vegetables, vegetable stock, heavy cream and cover. Boil for 25-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and start to break apart. Add in cream cheese and allow cream cheese to melt. Once cream cheese completely melts, set aside for 2-3 minutes.
- Fill an additional large pot with about 4 quarts of water. Liberally salt the water before boiling. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Pasta should be al dente (slightly undercooked) before straining. Set aside.
- Using an immersion blender or by pouring the vegetable/cream cheese mixture in a blender, add milk and then blend the vegetables and cream cheese together until completely smooth. (If using a stand blender, pour the mixture back into the large pot when done.)
- In the large pot with cream cheese blend, add shredded cheddar, mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add pasta and fold cheese and pasta gently together. Add greek yogurt during the folding process. Coat a 13" x 9" casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and then transfer macaroni to the casserole dish.
- Bake at 375° for 30 minutes and then broil for the last 3-5 minutes until the cheese bubbles and the top becomes slightly golden. Serve warm.