Are you ready to be #blessed? Because I’m about to share with you my “world renowned” homemade breadcrumb baked mac and cheese recipe that I like to call Mack’s Mac and Cheese! I’m pretty sure my momma knew from day one to name me Mackenzie because 21 years later I would be whipping up this delicious macaroni dish!
I would have to say, mac and cheese is probably my favorite meal. Every restaurant I go to, I strive to always try out their mac and cheese. It’s just the perfect combo of creamy, cheesy pasta goodness. That being said, it’s typically not the healthiest choice as the dish is high is saturated fat and calories. Although many would think since I’m a nutrition major, I would ban any “bad” dish like macaroni and cheese, but this is not the case.
My philosophy is no food is inherently “bad”. I believe there is a place for salads, donuts, apples, kale, ice cream, and mac and cheese alike. Like anything in life, too much of it is usually not going to be good thing. But there is freedom in balance, satisfaction, and Intuitive Eating.
Macaroni and cheese is my indulgent delight. However, when I make it, there are a few things I like to do to give it a little bit of a nutrition boost. I swap out the white pasta and breadcrumbs for their whole grain counterparts. “Whole” grains have the bran, germ, and endosperm (AKA all the good parts filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals) whereas white or “refined” grains undergo a process that removes the germ and bran. Have some stale whole grain bread heels lying around? Toast them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and then crush them up to make your own homemade bread crumbs!
Sometimes I also like to use skim milk and reduced-fat cheddar cheese because these items provide the same level of protein while reducing the fat content. If you’re looking to stay indulgent, use whole milk and regular cheddar cheese. Although these are higher in fat, this may also help you to feel fuller, or more satisfied.
I love serving this dish alongside a light salad or some roasted veggies. What are some of your favorite healthy swaps to make an indulgent dish just a tad bit healthier?
Homemade Breadcrumb Baked Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups whole grain elbow macaroni
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups dairy milk of your choice (skim milk, 2% milk, or whole milk)
- 4 oz Muenster cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces Asiago cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs or 3 slices whole grain bread **see note
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.
- In a large pan, cook macaroni to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour until combined.
- Slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 2 minutes, then reduce to low heat and stir in all cheeses until creamy. Pour cheese sauce over drained pasta and stir gently to combine.
- Pour macaroni in the prepared baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.