Healthier Mac and Cheese

This Healthier Mac and Cheese recipe has extra fiber, vitamins A and C, and comes together with little fuss. All the creaminess and coziness of regular macaroni, but more nutritious.

If you and family are game, after the last step, mix in some wilted spinach or steamed or roasted veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, brussel sprouts, peppers, peas and asparagus. For a complete meal, toss in a can of rinsed/drained black beans, tuna, tempeh or grilled chicken.

Being in Maryland, adding a dash of Old Bay to complete this dish is a no-brainer. But, I understand if that is not your thing! Easily sub some freshly grated parmesan or smoked paprika.

Healthier Mac and Cheese

Healthier Mac and Cheese

This Healthier Mac and Cheese recipe has all the creaminess and coziness of regular macaroni but more nutritious.
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Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course


  • 1 lb uncooked pasta whole wheat or chickpea variety, gluten free optional
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 onion , sliced (see note below)
  • 8 oz mushrooms , sliced
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1 bunch brussel sprouts , ends removed and halved
  • 1 zucchini , chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower , cut in bite-size florets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk , dairy-free optional
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded, dairy-free optional
  • 1 package veggie meatballs , thawed
  • Old Bay Seasoning , to taste


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and set aside. Thaw veggie meatballs in fridge overnight or in the microwave.
  • Heat oil in large pot over medium heat and saute onion and garlic 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute 3 additional minutes, until softened. Stir in spinach until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add butternut squash and water to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until squash is tender (20-25 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, heat oven to 375°. Spread cauliflower, zucchini and brussels on baking pan in single layer. Toss in olive oil and roast until lightly browned, about 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Using an immersion blender or standing blender, blend squash mixture with milk until smooth. Return to pot over low heat and stir in cheese until melted.
  • Add pasta, veggies and meatballs to pot with sauce and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with Old Bay or paprika and grated parmesan and serve.


I opted to caramelize the onions for some deeper flavor. To caramelize, instead of sauteeing with garlic, add onion to a pan with 1 Tbsp canola oil. Cook over low heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until onions are caramel colored and gooey. 
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