Simple, rich, and creamy, healthy homemade mac and cheese that’s just as flavorful as the one from your childhood, but just a bit better for you!
Don’t me wrong. I love my go-to creamy quinoa mac and cheese recipe. But sometimes, nothing replaces the noodles, ya know?
And although I’ve been eating chickpea pasta for years now, it only recently occurred to me to try my creamy cheese sauce for my quinoa mac and cheese on chickpea pasta! And OMG, why did I wait so long???????
A lot of healthy mac and cheese recipes use whole wheat pasta, which is an excellent whole grain upgrade, but not as good as chickpea pasta. Chickpea pasta has three times the amount of protein, half the carbs, and twice the fiber as whole wheat pasta. And the texture?
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of whole wheat pasta, but chickpea pasta is delicious cooked al dente. In my opinion, more reminiscent of traditional pasta. And NO, it doesn’t taste like beans, trust me, I don’t like beans, so I wouldn’t eat this if it did. Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give it a try!
As for the sauce (aka the most important part), I did have to tweak it just a little a bit from the original creamy cheese sauce version in my quinoa mac and cheese (which is adapted from my broccoli cheddar oatmeal bake.) But, I did not sneak in veggies to it. Repeat, I did not sneak in any veggies into this sauce.
Look, I’m not against it, it’s just that every time I’ve tried in the past, I haven’t liked it. Kind of like cauliflower or zucchini in my oats, I can do it in a smoothie, but I draw the line in my oats. I just can’t get on board. Kootohs to those of you who can, I just can’t.
Besides, there is just something about mac and cheese and broccoli that goes together, and I’m more than happy to eat a bowl full of broccoli mixed in with this healthy mac and cheese as my veggie. Also, this sauce is already way lighter than most mac and cheese sauces, so there is no need to ruin a good thing, ya know? PLUS, it’s soooo easy to make.
If you’re craving some veggies in your mac and cheese though, you may want to try my spinach mac and cheese!
How to Make Healthy Mac And Cheese
You’ll make your sauce while you wait for the water to boil and then cook your pasta.
The sauce is a pretty straightforward standard roux. DO NOT LET THE WORD ROUX INTIMIDATE YOU. It’s not as fancy or as hard as you think.
You’ll mix your flour with 1/4 of the milk, melt butter in a skillet, and then pour the flour/milk mixture over it, immediately followed by the rest of the milk. Then you’ll stand there checking IG with one hand and stirring with the other every 30 seconds or so for 7-10 minutes until that watery mess becomes a thick cream. It’s more boring than hard, I promise!
Once you’ve got your cream sauce, you’ll turn off the heat, and then you will stir in your cheese little by little. Do this first while the sauce is still hot. That way, the cheese will FULLY melt. Then stir in your seasonings, and for a tiny bit of tang, some Greek yogurt. This is your chance to taste and adjust seasonings, in case you like things a bit more garlicky or peppery. You could also add a sprinkle of onion powder here too.
Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for this whole time. Pour that rich, creamy cheese sauce over your pasta and stir baby stir. It will be so creamy and cheesy. You almost won’t believe that it’s healthy. But, with 25 grams of protein and less than 400 calories per serving, you better believe it, friend!
PS I’m including my video for my quinoa mac and cheese in the recipe card below. It will give you an idea of how to make the sauce until I get a chance to make a video for this one! (The video shows the greek yogurt added before the cheese, reverse that and add the cheese first to make sure the sauce doesn’t cool off! It usually works either way, but occasionally the greek yogurt cools off the sauce too much and makes it hard for the cheese to melt.)
Healthy Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Large Nonstick Skillet
- Cook pasta, al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour and ½ cup milk until completely smooth.
- Turn on the burner to medium-low and melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet.
- Add flour mixture to skillet, stir, then add the remaining milk (1.5 cups).
- Turn skillet up to medium and heat for 7-10 minutes until sauce mixture is thickened. Whisk constantly! If flour begins to stick to bottom remove from heat and turn it down before returning to heat. You will know your sauce is done when you feel some resistance on your whisk. Instead of being a thin watery substance, it should resemble a cream.
- Turn the heat off, stir in the cheese, and seasonings. Whisk until all the cheese is melted and a smooth creamy sauce is achieved. Add in greek yogurt, if desired.
- Pour sauce on top of cooked pasta and mix until well combined.
- We love the Banza brand, but I've also tried Thrive Market and Rotini, both are delicious!