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 healthy comfort food.

Healthy Comfort Food

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 recipe tweaks in this healthy comfort food

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

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.

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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.

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