Hey ya’ll! Hope you guys have enjoyed the holiday season thus far. I am getting into the Christmas spirit this week trying to wrap up the last of my gift purchases.. Since I am still working on losing the last 10 pounds of baby weight (or just all that gelato I ate while pregnant…) I have been trying to focus on including lots of vegetables and lean proteins in my diet while avoiding all the sugary sweets people in my office keep bringing in!
This recipe was a hit in my house! It hits all the marks on winter comfort food being warm, gooey, and hearty but packs a punch of protein, vitamins and minerals with all the cheese and veggies. I love to spice it up a bit with some red pepper flakes which in turn spices up your metabolism, win-win!
Make sure to use whole wheat pasta or pasta made from brown rice/quinoa/vegetables whenever possible. I personally have sworn off any bread or pastas that are not made from whole wheat or brown rice/quinoa. Another thing to note is that you should be using whole fat cheeses or milk (although I can’t bring myself to do that a lot of the time!). It is healthier to be as close to the natural source as possible…once you start going low-fat foods tend to become more and more processed. This recipe uses 1/2 low-fat and 1/2 whole fat cheese in order to cut down on total calorie count. It is little choices like this that can really overhaul your diet without making too large of a lifestyle sacrifice.
Try bringing this to your holiday party instead of regular mac and cheese and you won’t be disappointed!! One tip I use to keep myself on track with my diet during holiday parties is to bring a dish of my own to the party. It really helps to have at least one dish you know you can eat that is good for you but won’t leave you craving the bad stuff!
Loaded Veggie Mac and Cheese
- 1 package whole wheat (or brown rice pasta) rotini
- 1 cup frozen broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 package frozen mixed vegetables
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cups skim milk
- 1 cup low-fat sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup gouda cheese
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and coat a non-stick baking sheet with olive oil (or nonstick cooking spray). Once water is boiling, add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Toss frozen veggies in ½ Tbsp. olive oil, spread evenly onto baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until tender. Remove from oven, toss with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in dutch oven (or large skillet) over medium heat. Add garlic and cook ~30 seconds. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Then slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Add cheddar and gouda cheese, mixing well. Add cayenne pepper, garlic powder, all purpose seasoning, salt and pepper, pasta, and vegetables, mixing well.
- Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and place dutch oven (or casserole dish filled with mixture) into the broiler in your oven at 500 degrees F for 3-4 minutes or until the top is golden brown.