This secretly healthy macaroni and cheese will become your new go to way to enjoy comfort food. All of the flavor with none of the guilt! This version is also packed with veggies, so you can get a full serving of vegetables into even the pickiest eater. Seriously, this cheese sauce made me rethink everything I knew about macaroni and cheese. This single serve secretly healthy macaroni and cheese recipe is gluten free, low fat and so easy to make. A healthy, filling dinner on the table in under 20 minutes, that’s my goal for you!
Macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food right? But usually it’s so full of butter and cheese that you can’t feel to great serving it to the family more than once in a while. But if your kiddos are anything like I was going up, if you ask them what they want for dinner, macaroni and cheese (likely paired with chicken nuggets or hot dogs) will be their answer. Yes, my mom often served us blue box macaroni and cheese with hot dogs chopped up in it. I used to recreate that dish often with veggie hot dogs throughout college. Never gets old.
I remember that I would usually be able to polish off almost an entire box of macaroni and cheese in a night. I would eat my serving or two for dinner and then find myself hungry again before bed and bam a whole box of mac and cheese later. Anyone else never feel full for long from boxed mac and cheese? Maybe I was just a piggy lol! But I think it has something to do with all those empty calories in the white pasta and fake cheese sauce.
Well I still love to eat. And feeling satisfied from a meal is extremely important to me. I hate not feeling “full” but knowing that I’ve eaten enough, since the dish is extremely rich or full of calories. Well you don’t have to worry about that with this macaroni and cheese. Since there is an entire head of cauliflower in the cheese sauce, you will quickly notice how filling this dish is! But just in case you are like me and will literally eat your face off when macaroni and cheese is being served, I made these single serving. You know self control is important, and I just don’t have any 🙂
I was recipe testing a broccoli and chicken casserole for next weeks meal plan. The meal plans are designed to help you bring a healthy, nutritious meal to the table in under 20 minutes a night. Grab your meal plan here.
So I had it in my head I wanted to amp up the veggies in the dish and remembered how creamy the cauliflower puree was when I made the Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup. Instead of using nutritional yeast and pureed white beans, I added cheddar cheese to the pureed cauliflower puree and about died. I probably ate 1/4 cup of the sauce with my spoon standing at the stove just in awe of how good this sauce was. And I knew immediately that I needed to make macaroni and cheese! Because the only thing better than the perfect cheese sauce is macaroni and cheese, am I right?
This recipe is insanely simple and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients. Cauliflower, vegetable broth, cheddar cheese, brown rice noodles, almond meal, and salt and pepper. That’s it, sometimes simple is really key! So let’s quickly talk about making that cauliflower puree, which is hidden star of this recipe. In a large pot, you will want to steam the cauliflower florets in the vegetable broth (takes about 15 minutes in a covered pot for them to reach perfection). While the cauliofwer is cooking, you can boil the water and make the brown rice noodles, that way everything is done around the same time.Once the cauliflower is fork tender (you can easily stick a fork in it), you can puree it right in the stainless steel pot with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, add one to your wish list and instead carefully transfer the cauliflower and vegetable broth to a blender. You will likely have to blend this in batches in order to not burn yourself with hot cauliflower puree. Once the cauliflower has been pureed, simply add 1 cup of cheddar cheese (I used a reduced fat cheddar made with 2% milk) and just a tablespoon or two of the cooking liquid from the pasta (which is optional it just helps it thicken a bit). Add a pinch of salt and few cracks of black pepper and bam ready for the oven!
Top the mac and cheese with just a sprinkle of cheese and some almond meal to add a little crunch. Broil for 1-2 minutes and dinner is ready! But be more careful than me and watch your food under the broiler!
Secretly Healthy Macaroni and Cheese
- In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, add the cauliflower florets and the vegetable broth. Cover the pot and and heat over medium to medium high heat, for 12-15 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, boil a pot of water on the stove. Add the brown rice pasta to the boiling water and cook till al dente (about 8 minutes)
- Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
- To puree the cauliflower either puree in the pot with an immersion blender or add the cauliflower and vegetable broth to the blender. Once smooth transfer back to the pot and add 1 cup of cheese and stir to combine. Add 1-2 tbs. of the cooking liquid that you reserved to help thin out the sauce (this will help it adhere to the pasta a little better).
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir.
- Spray your ramekins with non-stick spray (I use coconut butter) and divide the pasta and sauce between the 4 ramekins. Top with a 1/2 tbs. almond meal and 1 tbs. grated cheese
- Broil 1-2 minutes on a cookie sheet for quick removal from the oven.
- Enjoy with your favorite salad!
What about you?
- Favorite comfort food?
- How do you like to enjoy your macaroni and cheese?
- Blue box or homemade?