Healthy 30-minute meals: Broccoli mac and cheese

This comfort food favorite gets a healthy twist without losing any of its ooey, gooey goodness.
Broccoli mac and cheese
You can have this baked broccoli mac and cheese on the table in 35 minutes flat. Alix Turoff Nutrition
Get the Better newsletter.
SUBSCRIBE
By Brianna Steinhilber

We made it through January — and the tightened-up diet season devoid of alcohol and refined carbs. Now we’re ready to introduce some of our favorite meals back into rotation, without going off the deep-end and undoing a month of hard work.

For those nights when we decide to loosen the reigns a bit, lightened-up comfort food recipes that will satisfy cravings are key. Case in point: this baked broccoli mac and cheese from registered dietitian Alix Turoff's latest book, "Lose Your Belly Fat Cookbook: A Jumpstart Plan and 75 Delicious Recipes for Weight Loss". The recipe gets a healthy twist with high-protein chickpea pasta, skim milk and reduced-fat cheese, and even manages to sneak some veggies in. Perhaps the best news, you can have it on the table in 35 minutes flat, which is my kind of weeknight dinner.

Another upside? You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like mac and cheese. From your picky toddler, to your spouse, to your best friend — the gooey, carby dish gets two thumbs up regardless who you’re sharing the dinner table with.

Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Servings: 6

Total cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces chickpea pasta (dry)
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup yellow onion (minced)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cheddar cheese (~2 cups shredded)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 12 ounces broccoli florets (pre-cut)
  • 2 tbsps Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs (seasoned)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions for al dente (or slightly under cook 2-3 minutes). Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes, add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook ~5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more cooking spray on top.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.

More comfort food recipes

Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.