Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

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This past weekend my friend Emily was in a show, so I decided to make dinner for us afterwards. We both love comfort foods, but we also like to eat well.  We also both love sweets (like brownies)…. so we decided we should probably also love running. So, Em has become my running buddy at school. She’s also my “OK I’m really not feeling running today. How ‘bout we walk and talk?” buddy. She’s my travel buddy. She’s my getting-ready buddy (you’ll really only ever get that if you’re a girl). She’s my wing girl. She’s my okay-to-call-at-2:00AM buddy. She’s my best friend.

Emily is one of those people that you run into on the street and you walk away smiling for the next hour. She just makes you happy. It’s incredibly contagious. The world needs more Emilys.

I’m really lucky to finally be living with her this year. It sure makes things a lot more convenient, and it also means that neither of us will be getting any work done.

Most importantly, it means lots of impromptu dinner dates, like this one. I decided I wanted to try to recreate everyone’s favorite homemade Mac and Cheese into something slightly healthier (okay, A LOT healthier). After browsing through a bunch of recipes, I got to work in the kitchen.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

I used whole wheat pasta and eliminated at least 50% of fat from your standard Mac and Cheese recipe.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

The crispy breadcrumb + parm topping adds so much flavor.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

MMmmmm. Baked to perfection.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

Em made the really yummy salad.

Our roommates came downstairs to check out what the smell was….

and dug right in. It’s okay, we didn’t mind sharing.

There was a fight for the last piece…

So much for leftovers!

P.S. A BIG thanks to Lindsay who has been letting me borrow her camera 🙂



Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 6 oz. whole wheat pasta (elbows, penne, or shell will work great)
  • 6 oz. fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ⅛ cup flour
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 cup skim or reduced fat milk
  • ½ fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1.5 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I advise against reduced-fat versions - you’re going to lose a lot of flavor that way).
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs (I seasoned my own with pinches of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper)
  1. Cook the pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to the package directions for al dente. (The pasta will continue to cook when you bake it in the oven). Drain and set aside. Spray an 8”x8” or 11”x7” baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook for one more minute, until the flour is well combined. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk the mixture. Raise the medium-heat to high until it comes to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. When the sauce is thick, remove it from heat. Stir in the cheddar cheese and mix until the cheese has melted into the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli and mix well. Pour the mixture into the sprayed baking dish. Top with the parmesan, then the seasoned bread crumbs. Spray the top with a little more cooking spray (this will help the top to crisp).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Then, broil for 2 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. (Be careful not to let it burn!)


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