Put mac and cheese back on the menu! Here’s a healthy mac and cheese recipe that delivers comfort food goodness without all the dairy, fat and calories. It’s perfect for #MeatlessMonday or anytime you’re craving mac and cheese! Mac and cheese has to be one of the most comforting foods ever. Warm, creamy, cheddary-good sauce and elbow macaroni make everything right with the world, it’s as simple as that. And now I’m the happiest gal in the world because I’ve figured out a healthy mac and cheese recipe that’s as good as any I’ve tried! And it’s quick and easy to make, because when you need your mac and cheese you need it now. It’s all in the sauce. It’s creamy, comforting and has a lovely cheddary tang, and the amazing part is it’s all veggie! So instead of tons of fat, calories and dairy, you’re getting a healthy serving of veggies. This is mac and cheese you can eat every night if you want and feel great about it, and feel great after you eat it! No food comas going on here, guaranteed.
I’ve talked about this sauce before, a lot actually. I can’t help it, I’m madly in love with it! Since I discovered it I’ve made it a ridiculous number of times, and I think I’ve finally worked out what makes the cheesy magic happen. Now don’t let this scare you – it’s made from carrot, potato, almond milk, oil and some common pantry seasonings. How how how can those things turn into something that seriously tastes like a high quality cheese sauce? Like not a phoned in, out-of-a-can cheese sauce but a solid, flavorful, real-deal cheese sauce?
One key is the potato. You boil up a few potatoes and the carrot, and put them in a food processor with the other ingredients to whip up the sauce. Potato starch gets stretchy when you hit it with a cutting action like you get in a food processor or with a stick blender, and it gives this sauce an amazingly cheesy texture.
Also, this is why mashing potatoes with a stick blender doesn’t work. The first time I tried it I got stretchy mashed potatoes. Believe it or not, there was a second and third time, which led me to research what the heck was going on. This article from The Kitchn explains it all, at the same time explaining why this cheese sauce totally works. Science! The other key is the seasonings. How do you make potato and carrot taste like cheese? The answer is mustard, weirdly enough. Mustard, garlic and onion powder, a little soy sauce and a little salt and pepper, but mostly mustard. The combination totally makes a cheddary tang.
And the fabulous cheese color is pretty nice too, thanks to the carrot. I can’t taste the carrot (or the potato for that matter) at all in the sauce, but it adds delicious color. And some fiber and vitamins too!
I decided to toss some peas in this batch for a little added fillingness and nutrition, and also because peas and mac and cheese was a big thing in my house when I was growing up. So it’s right on that comfort food wavelength for me. It’s also great with broccoli! Add any veggies you like. Or none! Sometimes there’s nothing better than a straight-up bowl of mac and cheese.
Eat Healthy Eat Happy
Put mac and cheese back on the menu! Here's a healthy mac and cheese recipe that delivers comfort food goodness without all the dairy, fat and calories. It's perfect for #MeatlessMonday or anytime you're craving mac and cheese!
10 minPrep Time
25 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
- "Cheese" Sauce:
- 2 c peeled, cubed potato
- 1 carrot, chopped
- water for boiling
- 4 Tbs olive oil, coconut oil or your favorite oil
- 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked or regular paprika
- 4 tsp mustard (Dijon or brown work well)
- 1 tsp lower sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 8 oz. gluten free elbow macaroni
- 2 c frozen peas or your favorite veggies (optional)
- Combine the potato and carrot in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor or power blender.
- Add all the other ingredients to the food processor and process for about 2 minutes, or until totally smooth.
- Cook 8 oz. gluten free elbow macaroni according to the package in a large pot. If adding veggies, cook/heat through as desired. Drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Stir in the veggies and the sauce. Serve hot.
[img src="http://eathealthyeathappy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/healthy_mac_and_cheese_nutrition.jpg" width="249" height="282" class="aligncenter size-full" title="Healthy Mac and Cheese Nutrition" alt="Healthy Mac and Cheese Nutrition"]
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So have I convinced you this sauce is the best thing ever yet? If I have, high five. Let’s hang out and eat veggie cheese sauce goodies all day. Here’s a cool dish I made with it a week or two ago, also very comfort food-y – I call it Cheezy Mexican Quinoa, and the vibe is very healthy skillet meal. Kind of Hamburger Helper for health-conscious and possibly vegan grown-ups who love real food flavor. My mom and I polished off the whole batch in an evening and were both sorry there wasn’t more!