7 Ways to Make Healthy Mac and Cheese

Vegan Yumminess

Yes, Mac and Cheese Can Be Good For You!

If we\'re all being completely honest with ourselves, there are very few things in this world that come close to the comfort that comes from piling a heaping portion of thick, mac-and-cheesy goodness into a bowl (that holds at least two serving sizes, naturally) and proceeding to stuff our faces with it. It\'s no wonder, then, that parents across the country turn to this family-friendly classic when it\'s time to get dinner on the table in a flash. Unfortunately, while macaroni and cheese is an undeniable crowd pleaser, it also tends to be high in calories and saturated fat-not so good for parents who want to serve their kiddos food that\'s health and tasty.

Thankfully, we have some fellow mac and cheese lovers who have developed healthy-and equally mouthwatering-alternatives to the standard dish that are sure to give you and your family the fix you want without the guilt you don\'t. We\'ve rounded up our seven favorites that\'ll have you serving up seconds with pleasure.

Two Peas and Their Pod

Avocado Mac and Cheese

Don\'t be fooled by the green-this creamy, nutrient-filled substitute will have you wondering why you ever insisted that mac and cheese be yellow in the first place. This recipe keeps many of the traditional ingredients while swapping out the bad fats with silky-smooth avocados. Not just for guacamole, this savory fruit adds depth to the cheese sauce while remaining a true kid-pleaser.

Get the recipe here.

Simply Quinoa

5-Ingredient Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Hold up, did you say five ingredients? This ultra-healthy, nutrient-packed spin on our fattening favorite serves up all the right taste while keeping empty carbs, heavy creams and butter at bay. On top of the protein- and fiber-full quinoa, the butternut squash and Dijon mustard work in tandem to give the dish the rich, satisfying flavor we all look for. And for kiddos with allergies or other special diets, the already minimal recipe is easy to make vegan by substituting the regular cheddar with Daiya or another alternative.

Get the recipe here.

Looking for a squash-based sauce but want to keep the regular noodles in? You can find a similar recipe here.

Cooking Ala Mel

Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

As if breakfast parfaits and sour cream swaps weren\'t enough, we now have proof that Greek yogurt literally works in every dish. Using it in place of the butter and heavy cream in your standard macaroni recipe will not only lower the calorie count, but it\'ll also make the cheese sauce even thicker and creamier-which is all any mac and cheese lover wants anyway. Throw in some spinach for good measure, and you\'ve got a one-pot dinner that\'ll make you feel like Parent of the Week.

Get the recipe here.

Minimalist Baker

Vegan Green Chile Mac and Cheese

You can wish Velveeta a swift goodbye after whipping up a bowl of this green chile-filled goodness. Substituting dairy products for healthy alternatives like vegetable broth, onions and cashews provides guilt-free satisfaction, and the 19 grams of protein per serving will give kids the nutrients they need. Top it with toasted tortilla chips to give it that extra crunch.

Get the recipe here.

Two More Minutes

Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

This delicious and nutritious recipe is for all the parents desperate to help their veggie-phobic kids reach their 5-a-day minimum. What looks like an unassuming platter of cheesy goodness is actually a flavorful medley of pureed carrots, cauliflower and butternut squash. You\'ll satisfy your kids\' taste buds and their daily vegetable requirement in one fell swoop.

Get the recipe here.

Marla Meridith

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

With the fall season quickly approaching, this healthy, comfort dish combines a seasonal favorite with everyone\'s favorite pasta dish to create a recipe worth repeating all 12 months of the year (thanks to canned pumpkin). The pumpkin is packed with beta carotene and fiber, but if that\'s not enough for health-minded mamas, you can swap out the sour cream for Greek yogurt, too.

Get the recipe here.

Tolerant Pasta and Cheese

Whether you use one of the veggie-based sauces on a previous slide, or opt for a family favorite recipe, any mac and cheese is taken to the next (healthy) level with Tolerant pasta. In addition to standard elbows, the company makes a variety of other pasta shapes, but the unique thing about Tolerant is that each variety of pasta is made from only one ingredient-organic, non-GMO legumes. Whether you opt for red lentil rotini or green lentil elbow macaroni, you can be sure that your dish will be perfect for kids on gluten-free or other special diets, while also being packed full of 20-plus grams of energy-fueling protein.

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