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Recipe: A Better, Healthier Mac & Cheese

Love mac & cheese but hate the calories? Watch now to learn how you can make a healthier version!

October 11, 2018 | HF Healthy Living Team

Watch as Chef Jeffrey K. Vaden makes a delicious but healthier version of mac & cheese—just by changing a few ingredients. And make it for yourself from the recipe below!

macaroni cheese

Full-Flavor, Less-Fat Baked Mac & Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 3 tbsps. plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. light olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • cups 2% milk, divided
  • 3 tbsps. whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups low-fat, shredded, extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces Neufchatel cheese (lower-fat cream cheese)
  • tsp. ground nutmeg
  • tsp. onion powder
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces whole wheat macaroni (or small shells)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put a large pot of water on to boil, and spray a two-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

  2. Mix the breadcrumbs with the olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat 1½ cups of milk to steaming in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Whisk the remaining ¼ cup of milk with the whole wheat flour in a small bowl until smooth; whisk into the steaming milk, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens (2 to 3 minutes).
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses, nutmeg, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  6. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes until almost tender. (It will cook more in the oven.)
  7. Drain the pasta and add the cheese sauce, mixing well. Pour the mixture into the 2-quart prepared dish and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top. You can also spoon into greased muffin cups.
  8. Bake the casserole for 25–30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
Jeffrey Vaden
About Jeffrey K. Vaden
Jeffrey K. Vaden is the owner of Soul Luxe Caterers in Westchester County, NY. He is a graduate of both Howard University and The Culinary Institute of America. Jeffrey started working with Healthfirst after a brief stint on The Food Network, and showcases his healthy cuisine via food demonstrations, videos, lectures, and his participation with the Healthfirst Healthy Living blog.

© 2018 HF Management Services, LLC

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

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