Healthy Mac and Cheese

Get ready to call your tastes buds a liar….because they will NOT believe this cheese sauce is made up of mostly a vegetable.

This Mac and Cheese is outstanding and uses an entire head of pureed cauliflower as it’s base. Cauliflower is like the tofu of vegetables…it’s taste is easily masked by whatever it’s cooked with.

I’m surprised I was able to take any photos of the mac and cheese for this post! After one taste, I had to fight Kieran off before he ate it all! Who am I kidding…..Kieran had to fight ME off. I kept sneaking bites during the photo shoot…Kieran kept shooing me away.

He would leave the room for a second and come back to find a fork full of mac and cheese in my mouth. I don’t know how I managed to tighten up and finish photographing the mac and cheese….without Kieran there to stop me….I would have eaten the entire pan and wouldn’t have a post to show for it today. Seriously….that’s how good this recipe is.

What’s that? You have children who live for mac and cheese and hate eating their vegetables? Blow their little minds with this recipe. I mean, how often are kids in the kitchen paying attention to what you’re cooking? What’s that? Your child is extremely observant and highly intelligent for their age, there is no WAY they won’t notice you’re cooking vegetables? I agree, you’re child is tremendously smart and tremendously observant, not to mention adorable beyond words….but here’s the thing…’re smarter!

Tell your little cuties, if they ask, your making the cauliflower for your work lunch the next day….be creative…I promise you can out smart them! It will be SOOOOOOOOO worth it too. Your children will think you’re the best Mom/Dad in the world for giving them mac and cheese, and you’ll FEEL like the best Mom/Dad in the world knowing you creatively got your children to eat their vegetables! It’s a win-win! You can’t lose!

mac and cheese recipe

There are so many variations you can do with this recipe too. I know some people like their mac and cheese creamy out of a pan, and others like it baked. You can do either with this recipe.

You can play around with the flavor of cheese, you can make a more adult version with additional vegetables like red pepper, tomato, and basil. The possibilities are endless to adapt this recipe and make it yours.

To cook the cauliflower, I decided to make my own “double boiler” type of method to steam the cauliflower. I don’t have a double boiler, or a vegetable steamer, so I had to improvise. I filled my tall pasta pot half way with water and turned the heat on high. I then placed my colander on top of the pot, pictured below, and used a skillet lid to trap in the steam.

I know what you’re thinking….why in the hell would I use a colander to steam the cauliflower, since the steam can escape through the colander’s holes…..weirdly enough it worked…..and it worked well. With the lid on, my contraption trapped enough steam to get the job done! After I finished steaming the cauliflower, I had plenty of water left to cook the macaroni.

You could get crafty and probably cook the macaroni at the same time as the cauliflower, but I didn’t want to run the risk of the macaroni being done before the cauliflower…since I only have one colander…the last thing I wanted was overcooked and mushy pasta, so I decided to cook them separately. But shit, have fun, be ballsy, and cook your recipes however you want!

Healthier Mac and Cheese Recipe this the healthiest mac and cheese you are every going to eat? I don’t know….

But I DO know you lose a lot of fat since this recipe uses cauliflower as it’s base, rather than flour, milk, and butter. I’m assuming you can use skim milk, but since we had 2% in the fridge, I decided to use what I had on hand. The classic cheddar tasted phenomenal! I added gruyere, which has sweet and nutty notes, to give the dish more depth, but you certainly don’t have to use it if you’re not a fan.

Note, when you first blend the cauliflower, onion, milk, and garlic (see recipe below), you’ll probably think the mixture tastes bland. It’s totally cool to add some salt and pepper for flavor, but go easy on the salt. Since cheese is salty, you may find after you add the cheese, the dish is perfect. If not, add as much salt as you want at that time.

For an even healthier version, skip the bread crumb topping. Kieran is a bread crumb topping man, so I added it for his sake…and for aesthetics.

If you hate cauliflower I bet this recipe will change your mind. This mac and cheese is so comforting because even though it tastes like the real, unhealthy deal, it’s packed with amazing cauliflower-y nutrition. It’s simply the best.

Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe

Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe

Shock Munch
A homemade mac and cheese recipe that is perfect for the whole family including picky eaters, this veggie mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.
Course Hidden Veggies
Cuisine American


  • ½ of an onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
  • 1 cup of milk (I used 2%)…note…have an extra cup handy in case you need it
  • cups of cooked macaroni noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 8oz classic cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 5oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • Smoked (or regular) paprika (optional)
  • 1 -1½ cups panko bread crumbs (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook the macaroni, in boiling salted water, according to the manufacture's directions. I undercooked my macaroni by 2 minutes so they soak up more sauce while they cook further, later in the recipe. Drain and set aside until needed.
  • In a double boiler, or if you have a fancy steamer, steam the cauliflower until soft and can be easily pierced by a knife, approx 7 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is cooking, sauté the garlic and onion, with a good pinch of salt and pepper, until they are soft and slightly brown, approx 5-7 minutes. Set aside until needed.
  • Once the cauliflower is cooked, put it in a food processor, or blender, along with the onion, garlic, and ½ a cup of the milk. Process or blend all the ingredients together until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy.
  • Pour ¾ of the cauliflower mixture into a large pot, that's been heated over medium heat. Add your cheddar and gruyere cheese, and stir constantly until the cheese is completely melted. Now add your cooked macaroni, a cup or so at a time, and stir until everything is well combined. While stirring, the mixture will start to get "stringy" because of the melted cheese. Add your remaining ½ cup milk, a little at a time, until you reach the creaminess you desire. Of course add more if you feel the mixture needs it. Taste for salt and pepper, adding as much as you see fit.
  • At this point, if you like creamy mac and cheese, you can eat it as is! It will be delicious!
  • However, if you prefer baked mac and cheese, you can do a few extra steps!
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 or 9×9 cake pan and sprinkle the top with smoked, or regular, paprika.
  • If you don't like bread crumbs on your mac and cheese, bake it without the bread crumbs for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts bubbling.
  • If you DO like a bread crumb topping, do the following…
  • In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butters. Add the bread crumbs, stir and cook on medium heat, until the the bread crumbs are toasted, it should only take a few minutes.
  • Top the mac and cheese with the buttery, toasted bread crumbs.
  • Put the mac and cheese in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts bubbling.
  • Once the cheese mixture is bubbling, take it out of the oven, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

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