This homemade mac and cheese is creamy and filled with protein and fiber, making it a more balanced choice when you want a warm bowl of creamy mac! The pureed cauliflower actually helps to make this dish super creamy and more filling. Plus, it's loaded with a bunch of other veggies (zucchini, spinach, garlic) to round out the meal. Also, it can easily be adjusted to be dairy free, vegan or gluten free if you have any dietary restrictions! Simply swap the milk and cheese for non-dairy alternatives (such as almond milk varieties), or use a gluten free pasta if you need! It's also a great #mealprep option, since the recipe yields 4 servings (and you can double the recipe if you want to meal prep for a family). Get ready for the creamiest bowl of mac and cheese with veggies you've ever tasted!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Ingredients (yields 4 servings):
8 oz pasta dry (I like to use whole wheat pasta or Banza pasta, but you can use any pasta you'd like! Make sure to use a gluten free pasta if you need to make this dish gluten free) 2 medium zucchini 1 clove garlic 4 c raw spinach 2 Tbsp olive oil 1/4 tsp ground black pepper Water for boiling
Cheese sauce: 12 oz cauliflower, cut into florets (this is about the size of one medium head cauliflower) 1.5 C milk (I like to use 2%, but you can use any milk, including a non-dairy alternative) 1 1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese 1/4 C nutritional yeast 1/4 tsp garlic powder 1/8 tsp ground black pepper 1/4 tsp salt
*Wash and dry zucchini, cauliflower and spinach before using!
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to box directions, strain and set aside. I recommend putting the water on the stove, raising heat to high and moving forward with the steps below while the water is coming to a boil.
2. Chop zucchini and mince garlic.
3. Cook cauliflower in microwave by placing in a large microwave-safe bowl, covering with paper towel and cooking on high for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Alternatively, you can steam cauliflower over boiling water if you prefer. Remove cauliflower from microwave and set aside.
4. Warm oil in large pan over medium heat and add zucchini. Cook zucchini for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic, stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
5. Add spinach to large pan with vegetables, stir occasionally and allow spinach to wilt, approximately 5 minutes. If you put up the water at the same time that you began cooking the veggies, the pasta will likely be done at this point, so make sure to strain the pasta and then add it to the veggies at this time. Reduce the heat to low.
6. Use food processor or blender to puree the cauliflower until it is smooth (I like to use my Cuisinart mini food prep food processor). *Note: if you are doubling the recipe, you will likely need to use a larger food processor or blender.
7. In a small or medium saucepan, add pureed cauliflower and milk over low-medium heat. Add nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir all ingredients until a thick sauce forms (about 20 seconds).
8. Add cheese and stir continuously until cheese melts and sauce is warm (about 1-2 minutes). Remove cheese sauce from heat.
9. Pour sauce over pasta, mix until sauce coats pasta and veggies and enjoy!
*Please Note: If you are gluten free and need to avoid all potential sources of cross contact, such as in the case of celiac disease, I recommend using certified gluten free products, including pasta and spices.
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving = 1/4 of this recipe)
Calories 503 calories, Total Fat 22 g, Saturated Fat 10 g, Cholesterol 44 mg, Carbohydrates 58 g, Fiber 9 g, Protein 25 g, Sodium 464 mg, Calcium 450 mg
*Analysis uses whole wheat pasta, 2% milk and whole-milk cheese. Analysis will vary if different ingredients are used.
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