Control the Fat
One of the easiest ways to cut some of the fat and calories in your macaroni and cheese is to replace some of the cream or whole milk in the cheese sauce recipe with skim milk.
Use Flavorful Cheeses
Using hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano can help you cut calories, since you don’t need to use as much to get a ton of flavor. If your recipe doesn’t call for any hard cheeses, try cutting back on the amount of soft cheeses and toss in a healthy handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano instead; you’ll get lots of salty flavor.
Add More Flavor
If your recipe calls for high-fat, high-calorie add-ins like bacon, try swapping them for healthier options. Adding a pinch of smoky cumin or paprika or a few tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs to the cheese sauce will give the dish flavor for fewer calories and less fat.Use Whole Wheat Pasta
Swapping some or all of the pasta in your macaroni and cheese for a whole-wheat variety can be a great way to eat more whole grains. Just be sure whole-wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient on your pasta package.
Add Some Vegetables
Although we don’t condone replacing all the pasta with vegetables (because then it’s not really macaroni and cheese, is it?), adding some vegetables for flavor can be a good way to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating. Grilled corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, and small florets of roasted cauliflower are all great choices.
Cut Some Butter
Many baked macaroni and cheese casseroles call for a buttery crumb topping. You can cut fat and calories by sprinkling your finished macaroni and cheese with crunchy, lightly toasted Panko breadcrumbs, instead.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.