Mac n' cheese is one of my favorite childhood foods. And adulthood foods. I mean I don't really have to sell anyone on mac n' cheese - I think a universal consensus exists that buttery and cheesy warm noodles are delicious. BUT, knowing how unhealthy traditional mac n' cheese actually is, makes it fall on my forbidden foods list. I'm talking like, top 5.
The silver lining is that as a dietitian, one of my favorite pastimes is experimenting with food and creating innovative, healthy ways to enjoy the otherwise unhealthy foods many of us grew up with.
Here, I used chickpea pasta instead of traditional elbows made from refined white flour. Chickpea noodles are loaded with fiber and protein, while white noodles have little, if any. I also added muuna 2% plain cottage cheese for extra protein, flavor, and creaminess. This recipe calls for zero butter or artificial flavorings. In other words, this dish has lots of fiber and protein, and you can confidently prepare it without feeling an ounce of guilt!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1 box elbow Chickpea pasta (I used Banza)
- ½ cup 2% plain Muuna cottage cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (note: set aside ~¼ cup to sprinkle on top before baking)
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
*Note: for those of you who like it extra cheesy, feel free to double the sharp cheddar to 2 cups total.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook chickpea pasta according to instructions on box. Once cooked, be sure water is completely drained.
- While cooked pasta is still hot, add cheddar, parmesan, Muuna cottage cheese, garlic powder, and salt, and mix ingredients together until they appear uniform. Remember to set aside ~¼ cup cheese to sprinkle on top before baking.
- Transfer pasta and cheese mixture to baking pan. You may sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top. Bake for ~10 minutes, or until cheese appears melted.
- Serve and enjoy!