Guilt Free Mac and Cheese

March 20, 2015

I'm not completely shunning delicious full fat cheese, thick heavy creamy and lovely salty butter. I promise.

It might seem like my blog is taking a turn down the highly virtuous and 'where the fuck are all the proper cakes' road, but I promise I'm still all about that baste.. in butter.

I'm trying to get a bit healthy all over, and being that I love food, for me that means figuring out how I can carry on eating loads of delicious things instead of surviving on a rice cake every four days.

As such you will still find recipes like Double Buttermilk Scones and Triple Layer Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Ganache Buttercream Icing, but you'll also find Healthy Vegetarian Roasted Carrot, Coriander + Cous Cous Salad and Mushroom Biriyani with Cauliflower Rice. The more choices you have, chances are you'll make better decisions about moderation!


Whilst i'm not above eating an entire family size cheese pizza on my own, doing the numbers on the calories content of the traditional American style Mac and Cheese I make... I was a little alarmed. Now, you know that when something consists solely of heavy cream, cheese and white pasta it's not going to be up there in the skinny stakes, but seeing that each portion racked up nearly 800 calories made me baulk a little. Especially as I lied to the maths and divided it by eight portions when it really serves six.

One of the beautiful things about Mac and Cheese is that it's the perfect busy persons dish, make a huge batch to stick it in the fridge and augmented with some protein or as a side to something, it'll do dinners for a week.

Swapping out the heavy cream for almond milk and fat free cream cheese brings this down to less than half the calories of the traditional version- plus this healthier version has prosciutto in it as well so it's packed with flavour and stands alone with a salad as a great week day meal. Using a stronger cheese means you don't need to use as much, and packing the sauce with natural flavours from garlic, onion and chives cuts back on cals whilst delivering on taste.


375 g wholemeal pasta- I used the traditional 'elbow' macaroni shapes but any will do
4 oz prosciutto or lean dry cured ham
4 cups almond milk (unsweetened)
8oz fat free cream cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 white onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Finely chop the onion and garlic, and sauté in a little sunflower/canola oil until soft and translucent.

Dice the prosciutto and add it to the pan to colour a little and infuse it's meatiness into the onion and garlic. I like to dice the prosciutto quite finely so that the flavour permeates through the whole dish but if you'd prefer to bite into chunkier bits of ham then keep it a bit bigger.

Pour in the almond milk and dollop in the cream cheese, turn the heat down a little under the pan so the milk warms evenly and the cream cheese melts. If the pan heat is too high you may end up burning the onions at the edges before the cream cheese has completely melted.

Once melted together, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine then turn the heat to medium so that the sauce gently simmers. You want the sauce to thicken a little so leave it simmering whilst you cook the pasta.

Add the wholemeal pasta to salted boiling water and cook as per the packet instructions. I say this because wholemeal pasta cooking times can vary depending on the brand, once you move into the whole meal world it's less of a known quantity than white pasta! Normally it'll take about 15 minutes on a high simmer to be tender.

Drain the pasta, drain it REALLY well, those little elbow pasta shapes hide water really well so give the colander a good shake about a few times and leave them to drain for a good few minutes. This sauce is not as thick as the traditional one so you really don't want to be adding any extra water.

Stir the chopped chives into the sauce and season with pepper to taste. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon so that you can see the spoon material through it. If you are really struggling to thicken it up add a little sprinkle of cornflour.

Pour the pasta into the sauce, or the sauce and pasta back into the empty pasta pan, which ever is easier, and mix well. I always mix the pasta and sauce in a large pan before pouring into a baking dish, so that the pasta is really evenly coated in cheesy sauce.

Pour everything into a baking dish and give it a little jiggle so that the pasta spreads out some what evenly. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes until the top is getting a bit golden brown and crunchy.

Let's call an imitation mac and cheese an imitation mac and cheese. This is not going to be a, "oh my god, I can't believe it's not mac!" moment. What it is going to do if give you an option to choose if you want to have something a little bit lighter than the traditional recipe.

It's lovely and creamy whilst staying light, it has that comforting cheesy flavour without being really heavy and it has the added bonus of meat, which Charlie was very happy about.

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