Nothing makes us crave comfort food more than the coldest months of winter. However, this presents a dichotomy, as January and February are probably months in which you’re trying to improve your habits and recover from a slew of holiday indulgences. What’s the answer? Healthy comfort food, of course! This simple, kid-friendly recipe for mac ‘n’ cheese focuses on a few simple substitutions and additions that increase the nutritional value immensely.
Brown rice pasta is used in lieu of traditional pasta. It’s gluten-free, yes, but also a whole grain, meaning that even if you eat gluten you will want to try this substitute due to the added fiber content and lack of processing. Brown rice pasta is easy to cook and tastes similar to traditional pasta as well, making it my favorite gluten-free free pasta choice.
Add a delicious homemade cheese sauce and a variety of sautéed vegetables to the pasta and you have yourself a super satisfying meal. Try to use as many different kinds of vegetables as you have on hand – it will look appealing, taste good, and include a wider variety of vitamins and nutrients too. The resulting meal blows away even the best boxed gluten free mac and cheese, and doesn’t take much longer to make (especially if you have helpers to grate the cheese and cook the veggies).
If you’ve never made homemade mac ‘n’ cheese before, don’t be intimidated. This recipe is streamlined and easy to follow, eliminating unnecessary steps (not to mention pots and pans), while still delivering savory homemade goodness without any of that nasty processed cheese flavor. Make this creamy gluten free mac and cheese one time and it’s sure to become a part of your regular meal rotation.
If you’ve been looking for an easy gluten free mac and cheese recipe that’s a bit healthier than your average bowl of cheese and noodles, you’ve come to the right place! Comfort food is an important part of our food tradition and culture. Honor your cravings while still caring for your health by creating your own healthy comfort food. It’s a win-win situation.
Gluten-Free Veggie Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Makes 6 servings)
1-pound brown rice rotini or elbow pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups fresh or frozen mixed diced vegetables (peas, carrots, celery, green beans, spinach, bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and onion all work well)
1 1/2 cups organic 2% milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (any brand will work)
2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Prepare pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add veggies and sauté until tender, approximately 10 minutes.
- When pasta is done cooking, drain and place pasta in a large bowl. Return pasta pan to stovetop and use it to make the cheese sauce (no washing necessary).
- To make cheese sauce, add 1 cup of milk to pasta pan and warm over medium heat. Combine gluten-free flour with remaining ½ cup of milk in a small bowl, whisking thoroughly to get rid of any flour lumps. Once the milk in the pan is hot (but not simmering), whisk in the milk-flour mixture. Continue whisking until mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon.
- Begin adding cheese to milk one handful at a time, whisking well after each addition. After all cheese is melted, stir in salt and pepper and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Add veggies to bowl of cooked pasta. Pour half of cheese sauce over top and stir to coat. Pour in remaining cheese sauce and stir again. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in refrigerator.
To ramp up the flavor of the mac and cheese, add ¼ teaspoon of any or all of the following seasonings: garlic powder, hot sauce, paprika, dried parsley, powdered mustard, and/or salt-free seasoning blend of choice.
- Gluten-free pasta in which brown rice is the only ingredient works best in this recipe. Brown rice pasta is generally available wherever gluten-free pasta in sold.
- If you prefer, substitute or combine cheese types for a twist on the classic mac ‘n’ cheese flavor. Monterey Jack, Colby, Swiss, Gruyere, or white cheddar are all delicious choices.
- If you want to add meat to this recipe, try crumbled cooked turkey bacon, pan-fried low-fat cubed ham, or diced cooked chicken breast. Stir cooked meat into finished pasta just before serving.
- If you’re strapped for time, simply use a cup of mixed frozen veggies to avoid having to prep or chop any veggies yourself.
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