Mac & Cheese – 5 Ways to Make it Healthier

One of America’s top comfort foods is Mac & Cheese. Most people purchase a ready made boxed product that only requires added water and heat. Unfortunately, this is not a very healthy choice.

Take Kraft’s popular Mac & Cheese for example. Here is the ingredient list:

enriched macaroni product (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate [iron], thiamin mononitrate [vitamin b1], riboflavin [vitamin b2], folic acid), cheese sauce mix (whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, contains less than 2% of citric acid, lactic acid, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, with paprika, turmeric, and annatto added for color, enzymes, cheese culture).

It has 250 calories per serving, mostly from carbs. The sodium count is very high as well, about a quarter of the daily value. There are 2 main components in Mac & Cheese: the pasta and the cheese sauce. In the Kraft product, the pasta is made from refined wheat, which is low in nutrients and fiber. In order to increase shelf life without needing refrigeration, cheese has been replaced with a “cheese sauce” whose main ingredients are decomposed dairy elements. If you love mac & cheese, here are a few suggestions for making a healthier version on your own:

  1. Use whole grain pasta, or better yet, employ quinoa or whole grain rice instead of pasta!

  2. Replace butter with olive oil

  3. Add Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream

  4. Use less cheese, but add strong tasting varieties like parmesan, to accentuate the flavor

  5. Add chopped veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower to your recipe.

Eating the foods we think as comfort foods doesn’t mean eating processed food, it just takes being creative with the ingredients to make our comfort food more healthy.

Here’s a question for everyone, do you call it Mac& Cheese or Cheese & Macaroni?  I guess it would say something about what is the most important part of the dish for you what you call it.  Let us know what you call it.  It can start a big discussion which is right or wrong.



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