Healthy Mac and Cheese!
Who doesn’t love diving into a bowl of mac and cheese?! The ooey gooey cheese turns into a velvety sauce that smothers chewy pasta for the most delicious and indulgent bite! But what happens after you eat it? Are you usually too full and blehhh? Yeah – most mac and cheese dishes won’t leave you feeling too great. You’ll be wanting to head straight for the couch! That’s why I made mine a HEALTHY mac and cheese. Now you can indulge in a mouth-watering bacony (is that even a word?!) forkful. How’s that for a healthy recipe?!
Low Carb & Healthy
I went all out with the pasta in this photo, but you could make an equally delicious health mac and cheese with a lot less pasta, or no pasta at all! Here are your options:
- Use only vegetables and no pasta
- Use a lot of vegetables and just a little pasta
- Use 1/2 vegetables and 1/2 pasta
In my recipe below I recommend 1 pound of pasta to 2 pounds of broccoli, but you could easily change the ratio you use. You can also use any pasta variation. I recommend avoiding white and wheat flours, so I choose rice pasta (brown or white rice is fine), lentil pasta, or bean pasta instead. If omitting the pasta entirely, you could simply leave it out completely or substitute some cooked spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, other vegetables, or canned white beans.
Broccoli Bacon Cheddar
I owe the success of this recipe to three things: bacon, broccoli, and cheddar! Ha! I mean seriously, when you combine those three amazing foods with pasta in one bite, how can it not blow you away? The bacon adds such a great flavor that I really wouldn’t recommend leaving it out. It just wouldn’t be the same! Then you have the cheese… The sharpness of the cheddar and the creaminess of the mozzarella balance each other out making for a super delicious and creamy sauce. Plus the freshness of the broccoli cuts through it all! Talk about the perfect dish.
Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Mac and CheesePrint This
- 2 lb. broccoli (I used defrosted frozen broccoli florets)
- 1 lb. pasta* (reserve 1/4 cup pasta water)
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. arrowroot starch (or non-GMO corn starch)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 8 oz. sharp shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- Sea salt and pepper
- Make the pasta: Boil salted water for your pasta. Cook the pasta, according to instructions, in the salted water. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
- Make the bacon and broccoli: Chop your bacon into tiny bits. Add the bacon bits to a large pan and cook until they’re crispy, then set them aside on a paper towel. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan (leaving just a couple teaspoons for flavor), then add your broccoli. Add few generous splashes of water to the pan, then steam the broccoli until it’s tender, but not mushy. Remove the broccoli from the pan (you don’t want any of the liquid so a slotted spoon works great) and set the broccoli in serving bowl. Season your broccoli with sea salt, add the pasta, then cover the bowl to keep the broccoli warm. Set the bowl aside.
- Make the cheese sauce: In a small/medium-sized pot, add the butter, starch, and a pinch of black pepper. Put the pot on low heat, then whisk until it’s combined. Add 1/2 of the cheddar cheese and 1/2 of the milk, then stir until the cheese sauce is melted together. Add the rest of the milk, the rest of the cheddar cheese, the mozzarella, and the parmesan. Mix until it all combines into a velvety sauce, then immediately pour over the broccoli and pasta.
- Assemble the mac and cheese: Add the bacon bits to the large bowl with the cheese sauce, bacon, and broccoli. Mix everything together so it’s coated evenly. Add 2 tbsp. of pasta water at a time, if needed, to thin out the cheese sauce so it easily covers the pasta and broccoli. Dig in!
*You can use any pasta variation, or omit the pasta entirely.
I recommend avoiding white and wheat flours, so I choose rice pasta (brown or white rice is fine), lentil pasta, and bean pastas.
If omitting the pasta entirely, you could simply leave it out or substitute it for How to Roast Spaghetti Squash (Whole!), zucchini noodles, other vegetables, or white beans.