Lighter Baked Mac and Cheese With Broccoli and Cauliflower

You don't have to feel guilty about eating mac and cheese when it's packed with vegetables.

Lighter Baked Mac Cheese Cauliflower Broccoli
 Christy Brissette

Mac and cheese is a perennial favorite, but most recipes are nothing but fat and carbs. Solution: Enjoy mac and cheese by cutting way back on the pasta and bulking up on vegetables. You can blend in a combo of full-fat and reduced-fat cheese to get that cheesy flavor without all the artery-clogging saturated fat.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 268, Protein: 17 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Carbs: 34 grams, Sugar: 5 grams

Recipe and photo by Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D. of 80 Twenty Nutrition

Prep time

15 min.

Cook time

26 min.

  • 2 cups whole grain macaroni
  • 2 cups frozen cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded light cheddar and mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (or 2 slices whole grain/gluten-free bread)
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, cauliflower and broccoli and cook for 6 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Put a colander in your sink and drain the pasta and vegetables. Leave them there to cool. 

Put the pot back on the burner and bring the heat to medium. Melt the butter and add the flour to make a rue (let the flour cook until it turn golden, about 1 minute). 

Add the milk and broth, stirring with a whisk. Bring the heat up to medium-high until the mixture starts to boil. Add the onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes more or until your sauce has thickened. 

Take the pot off the heat and add the cheese. Add the macaroni and vegetables, mashing the softened veggies with a fork or wooden spoon into smaller pieces. 

Pour the mixture into a deep baking dish and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy.