Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Unfortunately, many comfort foods are high in fat and calories and low in vitamins. Traditional macaroni and cheese recipes often exceed 700 calories for a modest portion and more than 40 grams of fat. You can enjoy this recipe for macaroni and cheese without the guilt and with added nutrition from spinach and whole wheat macaroni!

3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs, (see Tip)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 16-ounce or 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
1¾ cups low-fat milk, divided3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow macaroni or penne

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl. Place spinach in a fine-mesh strainer and press out excess moisture.

Heat 1½ cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining ¼ cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Cook pasta for 4 minutes, or until not quite tender (it will continue to cook during baking.) Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spoon the spinach on top. Top with the remaining pasta; sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture.

Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 584 calories; 24 g fat(13 g sat); 9 g fiber; 60 g carbohydrates; 38 g protein; 193 mcg folate; 65 mg cholesterol; 9 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 14,547 IU vitamin A; 2 mg vitamin C; 750 mg calcium; 4 mg iron; 907 mg sodium; 676 mg potassium

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