Healthy Comfort Food: Greek-Inspired Macaroni and Cheese

Yes indeed! A health-boosting diet can (and should) include your favorite foods. When clients ask me about this, I’m happy to show them ways to prepare a healthy comfort food recipe.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipe for Mac and Cheese

Healthy macaroni and cheese – the best kind of comfort food

My first strategies to “healthify” a recipe are to reduce the saturated fat, trim calories wherever I can and add vegetables and other disease-fighting foods. You’ll see that I did that for my healthy hashbrown casserole too.

My tweaks in this healthy comfort food recipe

To cut both saturated fats and calories, I used reduced-fat cheese and nonfat milk. Lowfat milk is fine too, if that’s what you have. To boost volume, flavor and nutrition, I slipped some vegetables into this healthy macaroni and cheese dish. I chose Greek flavors and ingredients this time, but you can pick the add-ins and flavors that appeal to your family. I’ve made nearly the same recipe with a Southwestern flair by using reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, chili peppers, other vegetables and chili powder. You can create your own kind of healthy comfort food with whatever flavors you like.

For more examples of healthy recipe tweaks, check out my Trimmed-Down Sweet Noodle Kugel, a type of Jewish holiday comfort food.

Make healthy comfort food with some veggies and a few recipe tweaks.Click To Tweet
Healthy macaroni and cheese

Healthy comfort food with lots of veggies and reduced fat cheese

Healthy Comfort Food: Greek-Inspired Macaroni and Cheese:

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Cuisine: Comfort Food
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Calories: 189kcal
Author: Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, FAND

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dry pasta shells or elbow macaroni (2 cups)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups nonfat milk
  • 7 ounces reduced-fat Havarti cheese, shredded or torn in small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced no salt added tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives (about 1.25 ounces)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 6 ounces baby spinach

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions, but without salt or fat. Drain and set aside.
  • Place the flour in a large pot over medium heat. Gradually add the milk and whisk briskly. Stir until thickened, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Add the cheese and stir until melted and evenly dispersed. Add the garlic, black pepper and oregano. Stir. Add the tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. Stir again. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the contents into a 2.5-liter casserole dish (about 10 cups) that has been prepared with nonstick pan spray. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

Notes

To boost the fiber, use either whole grain macaroni or high-fiber macaroni.
For diabetes exchanges, count 3/4-serving as 1/2 Veg, 1/2 Fat, 1.5 Carb, 1 Meat

Nutrition

Serving: 3/4 cup | Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 330mg | Fiber: 2g

Cheers to delicious, healthy comfort food!

Jill-Weisenberger_about-image-2
Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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