When I was in college, I think I lived on ramen noodles and mac and cheese. Of course, my limited budget and need to save money for partying on the weekends contributed to my toxic diet. Like most college students, my diet was not a priority. However, when my daughter went to college, I had already raised her vegan, so she was shocked when she discovered she couldn’t eat at the University of Michigan without living at the salad bar. Since then, colleges have added vegan options, which is wonderful. Healthy mac and cheese, for example, became a staple in my packaged meals for her to take to school.
Healthy mac and cheese, since then, has become a staple in our household. As a result, my kids’ request I make healthy mac and cheese when they come to visit. But, if I’m honest, we eat it all the time with or without them.
WHAT MAKES HEALTHY MAC AND CHEESE HEALTHY?
In order to make a typically unhealthy food, healthy is to change the ingredients but maintain the comfort food taste. First, let’s talk about noodles. Although many people believe carbs and noodles are unhealthy, the varieties of noodles available today are amazing! Some of my favorite noodles, for example, are gluten-free, while others are whole-grain.
MY FAVORITE GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES
- Bionaturae Organic Elbow Macaroni
- Barilla Organic Elbow Macaroni
- Delallo Gluten-free Corn and Rice Elbows
- Banza Cavatappi Noodles
WHOLE-GRAIN PASTA FAVORITES
As a matter of fact, I am shocked at how wonderful gluten-free kinds of pasta have evolved over the years.
The next challenge to tackle is creating a healthy mac and cheese with a healthy vegan cheese sauce. Although there are a variety of fabulous vegan cheese options, they are still high in fat. So, I decided to make my healthy mac and cheese with my favorite Skinny Nacho Cheese Sauce, but I tweaked it just a little.
HOW TO MAKE A HEALTHY VEGAN CHEESE SAUCE FOR HEALTHY MAC AND CHEESE
- 3 small Idaho potatoes, washed, scrubbed, skin left on
- 3 large carrots
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon Tamari, liquid aminos or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
Even though the sauce is made primarily of vegetables, adding more vegetables makes healthy mac and cheese even healthier. For this particular recipe, I chose both sauteed and raw vegetables.
WHAT VEGETABLES ARE ADDED TO HEALTHY MAC AND CHEESE?
Since I like to make any pasta dish I make, at least half vegetables, I combined a bunch of my favorite vegetables to add to my healthy mac and cheese. However, I chose to keep a few vegetables raw, such as the Roma tomatoes and jalapenos, so they complemented the dish rather than take over the flavors.
SAUTEED VEGETABLES FOR HEALTHY MAC AND CHEESE
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- 2 jalapenos, diced (deveined and seeds removed)
Once the noodles are cooked, the sauce is blended, and the vegetables are sauteed, add everything to one pot and stir together.
SERVING HEALTHY MAC AND CHEESE WITH DICED TOMATOES AND JALAPENOS
Then diced Roma tomatoes and jalapenos are added on top of each bowl as a garnish.
IF YOU LOVE PASTA, BUT YOU LIKE TO KEEP IT HEALTHY AND FULL OF VEGGIES, CHECK OUT THESE PASTA RECIPES:
- Spinach Artichoke Pasta Recipe
- Vegan Pesto Pasta
- Skinny Greek Veggie Pasta Salad
- Kale Asian Pasta Salad
- Vegan Kale Pasta Caesar Salad
- Oil-Free Vegan 20 Minute One-Pot Wonder Pasta
- Vietnamese Noodles
- Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Vegan Hungarian Goulash
- Vegan Chipotle Mac and Cheese