• Lightened-Up Mac & Cheese

    January 29, 2014

    Love mac & cheese? Me too! But, of course, I don’t love how it’s loaded with calories and fat and usually falling short on nutrients. You know what I’m talking about, right? Pasta, cheese, butter, more cheese… not the healthiest ingredients.

    With that in mind, I created a remade version using Brussels sprouts, spinach, Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheddar, garlic, almond milk and almond flour. Quite the all-star cast, right?

    Lightened-Up Mac & Cheese (900x600)

    I pumped up the volume of the whole wheat elbow macaroni by adding nutrient-packed Brussels sprouts and spinach. The typically heavy cheese sauce is replaced by a slimmed-down version made with nonfat Greek yogurt, low-calorie almond milk and reduced-fat cheddar cheese, but it doesn’t lose out on its great taste thanks to some whole grain mustard, minced garlic, and other spices. The dish is finished off with a sprinkling of almond flour in place of traditional breadcrumbs to further keep the calorie count down. Basically, this dish is one of the most delicious mac & cheese recipes out there (at 365 calories per serving), so be sure to put it on your ‘must try’ list!

    1205 (600x900)

    Serves 4 (each serving is 1.25 cups)


    • 2 ounces (2/3 cup) whole wheat elbow macaroni
    • 10 ounces Brussels sprouts
    • 1 1/4 cups frozen chopped spinach
    • 1 small container (approximately 5.3 ounces) plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
    • 2 cups (8 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
    • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 2 tablespoons almond flour


    Cook pasta as directed.

    Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts and then cut in half. Lay them cut-side down and finely minced.

    Place Brussels sprouts, spinach and 1/4 cup water in a microwavable-safe bowl. Cover and cook in microwave for 7-8 minutes until Brussels sprouts are soft.

    Meanwhile in a saucepan on the stovetop, make the cheese sauce. Combine Greek yogurt, cheddar, Parmesan, garlic, mustard, almond milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat, whisking frequently, until cheddar is fully melted.

    Remove Brussels sprouts and spinach from microwave and drain water from mixture, then combine with cheese sauce. Mix together well.

    Pour pasta-vegetable mixture into an oven-safe dish and spread evenly. Top with almond flour and place under broiler in oven for 3-5 minutes until top is golden brown.

    Serve immediately.

    I created this recipe for the Almond Board of California; check out my other delicious, comfort food remake recipes here: Almonds.com/TinaHaupert.

    Pin It

    { 50 comments… read them below or add one }

    lauren@golaurengo January 29, 2014 at 8:25 am

    I’m loving all these recipes for the almond board. I think I’m actually going to tackle a few of them when February break rolls around in a few weeks!


    Elizabeth @ Positive Change January 29, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I have been using a lot of your recipes lately and this is one to add to the list! I can’t wait! I love the cheesy goodness!


    Paula January 29, 2014 at 8:26 am

    This is like pasta covered in spinach dip! I could get behind that. Perhaps with the addition of some artichoke for more healthy fat?


    Kaelene January 29, 2014 at 8:28 am

    This sounds amazing!


    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness January 29, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Man oh man I LOVE me some mac n’ cheese…especially this skinny version loaded with veggies and protein! Yum!


    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 29, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I am definitely sending this to my friend! Her favorite food is cheese and I know she’d love to try out a healthy version of mac n cheese!


    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 29, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Yum this look delicious!


    Madison January 29, 2014 at 9:14 am

    YUM in every way!


    Liana@RunToMunch January 29, 2014 at 9:14 am

    loving all the green stuff in this!


    Jenny January 29, 2014 at 9:16 am



    Becky @ Life Outside The BOX January 29, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I love slimmed down versions of my favorite comfort dishes, can’t wait to give this recipe a try!


    sara @ fitcupcaker January 29, 2014 at 9:18 am

    this looks delicious! I love using laughing cow and parm cheese to make meals lighter!


    Abi@AbsofSteel January 29, 2014 at 9:20 am

    i love the idea of using greek yogurt, it sounds like a great way to keep the mac and cheese creamy while adding a little extra protein.


    Alison W January 29, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Hi Tina! Is Almond meal the same thing as almond flour? Thanks!


    Tina January 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

    @Alison W: They’re a little different (almond meal is more coarsely ground), but you can pretty much use them interchangeably.


    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots January 29, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Oh my this sounds wonderful!!


    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance January 29, 2014 at 9:38 am

    This sounds really yummy! I like the veggies additions. Do you think it would be ok to use regular flour instead of almond flour? Not sure I’m ready to commit to a whole new bag! :)


    Tina January 29, 2014 at 10:15 am

    @FitBritt@MyOwnBalance: You could just leave it out! :)


    Linda @ running4two January 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

    This sounds amazing! I love any excuse to eat mac and cheese!


    Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength January 29, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Dude I was obsessed with mac and cheese when I was pregnant. I just realized I don’t think I’ve had it since and that was 2.5 years ago! haha


    Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 29, 2014 at 9:52 am

    This looks amazing!! It’s making me want some as a second breakfast!


    Georgia January 29, 2014 at 9:58 am

    How many servings is this??


    Tina January 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

    @Georgia: Serves 4 (each serving is 1.25 cups)


    Jen January 29, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Looks yummy, my daughter is going to flip. I am totally making this, this week.


    Kimberly (Manifest Yourself) January 29, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Looks delicious! I’ve never had brussel sprouts, but they look less daunting in this recipe. + Belated congrats on Baby H! xo


    Livi January 29, 2014 at 10:51 am

    yum! :) mac and cheese I can enjoy without worry !


    Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit January 29, 2014 at 11:19 am

    You’ve outdone yourself this time…CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE THIS!!!!!!!


    Caitlin January 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

    loveloveLOVE that you included brussels sprouts in this recipe! pinned, absolutely!


    Gracie January 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

    That looks delicious! I love adding broccoli to mac ‘n cheese, but brussels sprouts look like they’d be great!


    Kylie January 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Wow, this looks great! Sounds very flavorful… I will have to work this into our dinner roundup.


    Aimee - funfitgirl January 29, 2014 at 11:45 am

    This looks delicious Tina! I’m going to try making it with gluten and dairy free substitutes.

    On a side note, your props turned out amazing. Makes me want to go shopping at Crate and Barrel or World Market 😉


    Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork January 29, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I love mac and cheese and will often add spinach and/or lentils (which my husband thinks is weird). I think I may be able to convince my husband to try this one, though, since there’s a bit of mustard in it! Thanks for sharing!


    Laura @ Backstage Balance January 29, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Tina, this sounds amazing! I wanted to compliment you on the photography and formatting of this post as well – I love the food styling and composition. Great photos!


    Theresa January 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this! Mac n Cheese is my favorite!! Also, loving your food photography lately :)


    Sara @ Zero to Sixty January 29, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    This looks really good! I am not sure I would go buy a whole thing of almond meal for it, but I love the idea of using almond milk! :) I would probably go for a Panko bread crumb topping. :)


    Shaina January 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food. I love all the ways you can lighten it up so that not only is it comforting, but healthy too!


    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties January 29, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    OMG this looks amazing! and much healthier than the box mac n cheese… :)


    Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats January 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Every time I see a recipe with almond flour in it I think, “Well I don’t want to buy almond flour for just ONE recipe.” However for a while now I’ve seen almond flour pop up in more and more of your recipes. Could you do a round up post of what you use almond flour for? Thanks! :)


    Rachel @LittleChefBigAppetite January 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Tina, your food photography has been outstanding recently! What camera / lens are you using?


    Megan @ The Skinny-Life January 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    WOW! What a great recipe idea. How did you come up with this? I love brussel sprouts & spinach. I’ve avoided pasta for years because I haven’t figured out how to replace the heavy creams & cheeses to make them still taste good. Any idea on the # of calories per serving?


    Brittney @ Sweets 'N' Greens January 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    This looks amazing! Definitely adding it to my to-try list. All the recipes you created for the Almond Board look delicious!


    Jackie January 29, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Holy yum!


    Jamie @ Dishing Out Health January 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Oh my gosh, yum! That’s what i’m talkin’ about! Love the idea of adding Brussels :)


    Ashley January 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm



    Ashley @ Snow Cream and Syrup January 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    This looks like an excellent recipe – thanks for sharing! I’m definitely going to have to try it. Of course my husband and I JUST had this conversation about how we eat too much cheese… sigh. 😉


    logan January 29, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    That is amazing looking mac and cheese! Or maybe you just take really good pictures 😉 I am going to have to try this out! Thanks for sharing!


    Jess January 30, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Looks delicious! I love adding a little green stuff to my mac & cheese.


    Makenzie January 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I am definitely going to try this soon as a recovery/carbo meal during track and cross country season!


    megan @ that running girl January 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    This looks awesome! Thanks for sharing your recipe. :)


    alana January 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    This sauce–well my version of it–is amazing!! I didn’t have any plain greek yog or cheddar so I used an extra laughing cow wedge, some milk, grated gouda and some dry white wine and let it simmer for awhile, put the sauce on top of some left over spaghetti squash and grilled chicken made for the perfect little bowl of wonderful today! YUM! Thanks for posting delicious and healthier recipes.


    Leave a Comment

    { 9 trackbacks }

    Previous post:

    Next post: