Creamy Dreamy Mac & Cheese (Made Healthier!)

Ditch the Guilt, Embrace the Goodness: Healthy and Nourishing Mac & Cheese

Better than Boxed: Healthier Mac N Cheese Recipe

Traditional mac & cheese, while undeniably comforting, is often loaded with processed ingredients and low on nutritional value. This results in a dish that is high in fat, calories, and sodium, but lacking in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

But I've got you covered mac & cheese lovers! You can still enjoy this classic dish without sacrificing your health. This version introduces a few simple swaps and additions that transform it into a nourishing and satisfying meal.

Out with the Old:

  • Low Quality Ingredients + Lack of Nutrition

In with the New:

  • Greek Yogurt: This creamy alternative adds protein and probiotics to the dish, boosting digestion and gut health.
  • Cheese: Opt for real, high-quality cheese like cheddar, parmesan, or swiss for a burst of flavor and essential nutrients like calcium and protein.
  • Broccoli: This vibrant vegetable adds essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while offering a delicious textural contrast.
  • Seasoned Chicken: Lean protein from chicken adds satiety and helps balance the overall nutritional profile of the dish. I like mine spicy!

By incorporating these simple changes, you can create a healthier mac & cheese that satisfies your cravings without compromising your well-being. This version is:

  • Higher in protein: Greek yogurt and chicken provide a protein boost, helping you feel fuller for longer.
  • Richer in fiber: Broccoli adds much-needed fiber, promoting digestive health and regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Lower in fat and calories: Substituting processed cheese with Greek yogurt reduces unhealthy fats and overall calories.
  • Packed with nutrients: This version is brimming with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, contributing to overall health and wellness.

Creamy Dreamy Mac n Cheese (Made Healthier)

Anne Murray, MS, RD
Craving mac & cheese but looking for a healthier option? This recipe delivers! We ditch the classic boxed kind and create a nourishing version packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. Greek yogurt, broccoli, and seasoned chicken transform this classic dish into a satisfying meal that's good for you and delicious to boot. Enjoy the comfort without the guilt!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course dinner
Cuisine American, comfort food, mac n cheese

Equipment

  • 1 Pot
  • 1 Pan
  • 1 Oven Safe Baking Dish

Ingredients
  

Base Ingredients

  • 2 c Dry Pasta Shells can use other shapes like rotini or rigatoni
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 floret Broccoli, Chopped
  • 1 lb Chicken Breast

Chicken Seasoning Blend

  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Buffalo Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 c Full Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 c Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1/2 c Shredded Cheddar Mix

Sauce Seasoning Blend

  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Buffalo Seasoning
  • milk as needed to thin sauce

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Boil water with 1 tbsp of salt
  • Once water begins to boil add in shells and stir
  • Once the shells have been cooking for 7 minutes, add in chopped broccoli to slightly blanch
  • Cook for 2-3 more minutes until shells are thoroughly cooked
  • Drain pasta and broccoli mixture and set aside
  • Prepare chicken in a separate bowl by adding cubed chicken breast with seasoning blend and oil, mix thoroughly
  • Cook on medium high heat until chicken is cooked through all the way, about 10-12 minutes. Once cooked remove from pan
  • Begin making cheese sauce in pot, turn heat to medium low and begin to melt butter
  • Add in butter, greek yogurt, shredded cheeses, seasoning blend and mix.
  • Add in milk or almond milk to thin sauce as needed, keep stirring until thick sauce has formed and cheese is melted
  • Transfer cooked noodles, broccoli and seasoned chicken into the cheese sauce and mix until evenly coated.
  • Transfer cooked noodles and broccoli into the cheese mixture and mix thoroughly, add in cooked seasoned chicken + sprinkle more cheese on top before baking.
  • Place in oven for 10 minutes
  • Enjoy!
  • Share with me on @nourished_by_anne when you make this healthier mac n cheese!

Video

Notes

Notes and Modifications for Healthy Mac & Cheese with Greek Yogurt, Broccoli, and Chicken:

This recipe is easily customizable to your preferences.
  • Feel free to adjust the amount of cheese to your desired level of cheesiness.
  • Substitute different vegetables for broccoli, such as cauliflower, spinach, or carrots.
  • For a vegetarian option, omit the chicken and add another protein source like tofu or beans.
  • Use whole-wheat pasta for an extra boost of fiber. Also can be made gluten free
  • Nonfat greek yogurt can be used 
  • If you don't have seasoning blend ingredients, use your favorite spices.
  • For a spicier kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the sauce or hot sauce. 
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Notes:
  • This recipe is easily customizable to your preferences.
  • Feel free to adjust the amount of cheese to your desired level of cheesiness.
  • Substitute different vegetables for broccoli, such as cauliflower, spinach, or carrots.
  • For a vegetarian option, omit the chicken and add another protein source like tofu or beans.
  • Use whole-wheat pasta for an extra boost of fiber.
  • Substitute the Greek yogurt with sour cream or cream cheese for a richer flavor.
  • If you don't have seasoned chicken, use plain chicken breast and season it with your favorite spices.
  • For a spicier kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the sauce.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Modifications:
  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta and ensure the cheese used is certified gluten-free.
  • Dairy-free: Use dairy-free cheese and yogurt alternatives.
  • Vegan: Substitute the yogurt and cheese with dairy-free alternatives and use a plant-based protein source like tofu or lentils.
  • Kid-friendly: Add a sweet potato to the sauce for extra sweetness and hidden nutrients.
  • One-pot version: Cook the pasta and broccoli in the same pot as the sauce to save on dishes.
  • Make it ahead: Assemble the mac & cheese and bake it just before serving.
  • Individual servings: Portion out the mac & cheese into individual baking dishes for convenience.
Enjoy your healthy and delicious homemade mac & cheese!
Keyword buffalo mac n cheese, creamy mac n cheese, healthier macaroni and cheese, mac n cheese, mac n cheese healthier, protein mac n cheese

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