As I mentioned in my newsletter, a case of the stomach flu left me in a very unromantic state this weekend. Which meant poor Charlie was left no choice but to stay indoors eating this leftover healthy mac and cheese while I sipped bone broth and whimpered from the cold tiles of the bathroom floor.
But despite this blip that left me off solid foods for a few days, what I’ve been craving lately is cheese. Warm. Gooey. Glorious cheese.
Healthy? No. But necessary in frost-bitten February? In the words of the fictional Fargo-natives that Charlie and I binged on this weekend: you betcha.
I’ve pioneered a few gluten-free mac and cheese recipes, including this jalapeno-scallion version that fooled 20+ guests at a Southern-themed New Year’s Eve party that Charlie and I co-hosted a few years ago. The swaps are simple enough: I use gluten-free pasta (one of these brands) and either AP gluten-free, white rice or brown rice flour to make the béchamel thick and creamy.
But do these alterations make my mac any healthier? Probably not.
To satisfy my cheesy cravings this chunky sweater season, I decided to make a few more tweaks. For one thing, I wanted to limit the overall dairy in order to justify a handful of good shredded cheddar. And to justify eating a large bowl of this cheesy pasta, I packed in a good portion of green stuff (basically, combining my gluten-free mac and cheese with this healthy creamed spinach recipe). Here’s a little overview of where this mac falls on the healthy hedonism scale:
Coconut oil for butter (I like this brand)
Brown rice flour for refined AP flour
Gluten-free penne for regular noodles
Almond milk + chicken stock for whole milk
Double the spinach…and
Just a cup of organic sharp cheddar
It’s still mac and cheese.
The coconut oil/brown rice flour/almond milk béchamel still makes the pasta super creamy, even with half the cheese. A shout out to my vegan comrades: I would be curious how this recipe fares without any cheese at all, and perhaps a little nutritional yeast mixed in. Report back if you give it a whirl.
For the rest of you though, if you’re craving a cheesy baked pasta that won’t make you feel like signing up for a week of Soul Cycle to offset your choices, this healthy mac and cheese with dairy-free “creamed” spinach is the answer.
From one healthy hedonist, to another,
Xo This healthy mac and cheese recipe is packed with lightened up "creamed" spinach, gluten-free pasta and an almond milk béchamel! Ingredients Instructions
This healthy mac and cheese recipe is packed with lightened up "creamed" spinach, gluten-free pasta and an almond milk béchamel!
Check out these other great dishes from Food Network’s #ComfortFoodFeast
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The Lemon Bowl: Cheesy Enchilada Bake with Shredded Pork and Spelt
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Rice ‘n Cheese
Dishing with Divya: White Beans and Spinach Enchiladas with Spicy Jalapeno Sauce
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Beef Enchilada
Healthy Eats: 6 Better Ways to Put Cheese on Everything
TasteBook: Southwestern Cheese Crisp with Chipotle Ranch Dip
The Mom 100: Spiralized Cheesy Butternut Squash and Carrot Casserole with Chicken
Taste with the Eyes: Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts Flatbread with Bleu Cheese
FN Dish: 5 Dishes That Are Even Better As Cheesy Casseroles