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A bowl of creamy, healthy protein packed mac and cheese made with chickpea pasta, broccoli and spinach. Macaroni is topped with extra cheddar.
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4.36 from 39 votes

Protein Packed Healthy Mac and Cheese

A healthy mac and cheese recipe that is packed with protein, broccoli and spinach. Perfect as a full meal and a sneaky way to get your kids to eat more veggies.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: healthy mac and cheese, protein mac and cheese
Servings: 4
Calories: 395kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 box 8 oz Barilla Chickpea Rotini
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 Tablespoon organic butter
  • 1 cup milk I used unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedge
  • 1 1/2 cups 6 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (more, if needed)*
  • 1 handful chopped baby spinach
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Boil pasta & broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chickpea rotini pasta, return to a boil and cook for a total of 8 minutes, adding in the broccoli florets at the four minute mark. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  • Add remaining ingredients: In the same large pot over low/medium heat add butter, milk, salt and pepper. Once butter has melted add in drained pasta and broccoli, spreadable cheese wedge and shredded cheese. Let cheese melt a little, about 30 seconds. Use a spoon to stir everything together until pasta is well coated with cheese, adding more cheese if needed. Add in chopped baby spinach and toss until wilted.
  • Serve: Serve immediately with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Notes

  • Pasta: As I mentioned above, I love using legume pasta to amp up the nutrition count. That said, you can totally use whatever pasta you prefer.
  • Veggies: Not a fan of spinach and broccoli? Feel free to use other veggies!
  • Cheese: I used organic Irish cheddar cheese and shredded it myself. In case you were wondering, let me just confirm that real cheese is 100x better than powdered cheese or even pre-shredded cheese. Fresh is always better and shredding the cheese takes no time at all. However, you can use whatever you prefer including reduced fat cheddar cheese.
  • Vegan + Dairy Free: If you want to make this recipe vegan or dairy-free you can use vegan butter, vegan shredded cheddar cheese and 1 Tablespoon of vegan cream cheese instead of the spreadable cheese wedge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(made with reduced fat cheddar cheese) | Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 354mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g