An all-time crowd-pleaser, mac-and-cheese is the epitome of comfort food. Our version, which EatingWell contributor Patsy Jamieson developed, is healthier than traditional versions of mac-and-cheese, thanks to a lighter sauce, spinach in the middle and a golden breadcrumb topping.
Here's how EatingWell’s lighter Baked Mac & Cheese stacks up nutritionally against traditional macaroni and cheese:
EatingWell's Baked Mac & Cheese
Though delicious, traditional macaroni and cheese doesn’t offer much nutritionally. Adding a layer of spinach to the middle of your creamy casserole gives you 37% of your daily value of folate, as well as some beta carotene and vitamins E and C. And sneaking it in between layers of noodles and cheese might get even the pickiest eaters to enjoy their vegetables.
While traditional recipes often call for whole milk—which delivers 150 calories and 8 grams fat (5 grams saturated) per cup—our lightened-up version uses low-fat (1%) milk, which clocks in at only 100 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per cup.
And you won’t miss out on milk’s nutritional benefits when you opt for low-fat or nonfat milk: per cup, both varieties deliver about one-third of the recommended daily value for calcium and at least 20 percent of the daily value for riboflavin, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Whole-wheat pasta adds robust flavor and extra fiber to your dish—you’ll more than double the amount of fiber per cup of whole-wheat pasta versus traditional refined white pasta.
Seek out dairy products that get 30 percent or fewer calories from fat. Low-fat cottage cheese lessens the amount of saturated fat in this recipe and gives the sauce a creamy texture.
Try our healthy recipe for Baked Mac & Cheese! Mac-and-cheese can be a true comfort, and our healthy update takes advantage of extra-sharp Cheddar balanced with creamy low-fat cottage cheese and tucks a layer of spinach into the middle, which may help picky eaters down their vegetables. Whole-wheat pasta adds robust flavor and extra fiber.