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Healthy Mac and Cheese {with Sneaky Sweet Potato}

A healthier mac & cheese recipe with hidden sweet potato that your whole family will love!

Yield: 10-12 servings (one 9x13 inch casserole) 1x
Prep: 20 minutesCook: 30-35 minutesTotal: 50-55 minutes
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Ingredients

  • Cooking spray (I use a reusable bottle sprayer with avocado oil in it.)
  • 1 pound (16 oz) whole wheat elbow pasta (sub: gluten-free pasta, like Banza brand)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, microwaved or baked until soft (about 1 1/2 cups) – SEE COOKING NOTES
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (the full-fat version tastes best, but non-fat will work; sub: sour cream)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional: good pinch of cayenne pepper or dash of hot sauce
  • 3 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese (shred your own cheese to avoid additives)
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (make your own, if you want)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil, plus more for the pasta
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley

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Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9×13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray (or two 8×8 dishes and freeze one for later).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but still a bit firm. Remove 3/4 cup of pasta water and set aside. (Don’t forget this step!) Drain pasta in strainer/colander and set aside. Toss with a little oil to keep from sticking.
  3. Meanwhile, place the sweet potato flesh (orange part), milk, pasta water, yogurt, salt and pepper (and optional cayenne or hot sauce for a little heat) into a blender. Blend until smooth (this hides the veggies from keen eyes and helps thicken the sauce). 
  4. Then pour the milk mixture into the same pot you cooked the pasta in. Stir frequently over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is hot and nearly simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese a little bit at a time (use a figure 8 stir pattern to prevent clumping). Stir until melted and smooth. 
  5. Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish(es). (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  6. Combine bread crumbs, oil, and parsley in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  7. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the top is lightly browned, bubbly on edges, and hot in the middle. (This may take more like 20-25 minutes, if baking a half portion.)

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-6 (no need to preheat the oven). Do not bake the casserole. Tightly wrap the dish(es) in a few layers of plastic wrap or foil and press out any excess air. Label and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge overnight or use the defrost setting on the microwave. Bake as directed.


Notes/Tips

Gluten-Free Version: Use gluten-free pasta. I like Banza brand. Omit the breadcrumbs or use a gluten-free version. I prefer to make my own with toasted gluten-free bread.

How to Cook Sweet Potato for This Recipe: Using a small, sharp knife poke a few holes in the potato on each side. Then, cook using one of the following methods and let cool for 5-10 minutes before peeling:

  1. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Flip over. Microwave another 2 minutes. Flip over again and microwave in 1 minute increments until a knife is inserted easily into the middle. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place sweet potato on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Then, flip over and baking another 30 minutes. Sweet potatoes are done when until a knife is inserted easily into the middle and skin feels crisp.

 

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: Makes: 8-10 servings (one 9x13 casserole)

We'd love your feedback! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.

© Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
Cuisine: American Method: Baked