5 Reasons to Put Down That Box of Mac and Cheese

By: Emily Lee

Food Network Kitchen Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese Healthy Eats Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Food Network Kitchen Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese Healthy Eats Food Network

No one should be expected to forgo mac and cheese in the dead of winter. This, the creamiest of all comfort foods, is our only solace when an apocalyptic blizzard is headed our way. Without a doubt, box mixes are convenient — but those cheesy orange powders and squeezable pouches of “Cheddar” contain hidden preservatives and not-so-hidden synthetic dyes that our bodies could do without. Steer clear of undesirable (and unpronounceable) ingredients while still getting your coze on with these wholesome homemade macs from Food Network.

This lightened-up but still creamy version of macaroni and cheese is full of protein — an impressive 29 grams per serving, to be exact — quite an accomplishment for a vegetarian meal. The whole-wheat pasta, spinach and artichoke hearts add their vitamin, mineral and fiber superpowers.

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

It seems sometimes there are only two choices with macaroni and cheese: Make it from scratch with a roux and slow-simmered cheese sauce, or tear open a box and make it in minutes. It turns out you don’t have to choose between quality and convenience. This quick method uses goat cheese, aged white Cheddar and gluten-free pasta. Throw in some dark lacinato kale and you have a complete meal in about 25 minutes.

Macaroni and 4 Cheeses

Photo by: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

Tara Donne, Tara Donne

Macaroni and 4 Cheeses

The secret to this casserole is pureed winter squash for its nutrients, bright orange color and velvety flavor that complements the four cheeses.

MAC_CHEESE_007.tif

MAC_CHEESE_007.tif

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

This macaroni is every bit as creamy and cheesy as the traditional version, but with fewer calories thanks to lowfat cheeses and skim milk.

This low-fat, dairy-free version of an American classic certainly has the right look, with its creamy orange sauce, thanks to pureed cauliflower, vegan Cheddar and turmeric. Food Network Kitchen recommends using umami-packed miso paste and nutritional yeast to evoke the savory, nutty quality of cheese.

For more mac and cheese, check out these recipes from our friends:

Creative Culinary: Green Chile Mac and Cheese

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Cacio e Pepe

Napa Farmhouse 1885: One Skillet Mac & Cheese

From My Corner of Saratoga: Buffalo Mac n Cheese Recipe

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