When you’re trying to eat a healthy diet mac and cheese isn’t exactly something you’d think would be included as one of your food choices. It’s typically full of fat and calories and not much that’s actually good for you, but making it at home from healthy ingredients changes everything! We love anything Mexican-style in our family (like these Oven Chicken Fajitas, these Mexican-Style Quinoa Stuffed Peppers or this Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup), so I was determined to give homemade mac and cheese a healthy Tex-Mex makeover and the results were amazing! Fresh peppers and diced tomatoes are a healthy addition to the low-fat cheese sauce, and using whole grain pasta really increases the amount of healthy fibre in each serving. And the best part is, it all comes together in under 30 minutes so dinner will be on the table in no time. Our family gobbled this up, and with 2 pre-schoolers at the table, that’s saying something!! I know you’re going to love it too!
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1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
2 tsp low-sodium taco seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
2 cups shredded low fat cheddar cheese
225g whole grain rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top
low fat sour cream and chopped cilantro for serving
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brown the ground beef in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. When it’s almost cooked through add the garlic powder, paprika, onion and green pepper and saute until the meat is finished cooking and the pepper and onion are soft. Add the diced tomatoes and allow the mixture to cook for a few minutes more, stirring often.
The best time to cook your pasta is while the meat is browning. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Cook it until it’s just al dente, drain and set aside.
Remove the meat mixture to a plate once the meat is cooked through completely, scraping as many of the brown bits out of the bottom of the skillet as you can.
Place the skillet back on the heat and add the butter to the skillet. Once the butter has melted, use a wire whisk to stir the flour and the butter together until they form a thick paste. Slowly add the milk, continuing to whisk until a white sauce forms.
Continue whisking until the sauce is smooth and then add the shredded cheese, continuing to whisk until the cheese melts and your white sauce turns into a cheese sauce.
Add the meat mixture to the cheese sauce, switching to a wooden spoon to combine everything well.
Add the cooked pasta to the meat and cheese sauce mixture and stir everything together well until all the noodles are coated. Press the mixture gently into the skillet using the back of the wooden spoon and sprinkle the remaining shredded over the top.
Add the oven-safe skillet to your preheated oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit) and let it bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and begins to bubble slightly.
Garnish with some bits of chopped cilantro and serve it up in all its cheesy glory!
It’s also really tasty served with a dollop of sour cream (I use low fat)! It adds to the creaminess of the sauce and the cool flavour really compliments the warmth of the Tex-Mex flavours.
Don’t you just want to dig right in to that cheesy goodness? Yum!
My goal in creating this recipe was make it Weight Watchers friendly, and I’m happy to say I succeeded! This skillet dinner serves 8 and each serving is only 6 Weight Watchers SmartPoints, making it the perfect healthy weeknight meal!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know in the comments below, what other flavours of skinny mac and cheese would you love to see on the blog this year?
Looking for even more healthy family meal ideas? Check out this Butternut Squash Pasta or these Paprika Chicken Thighs with Roasted Root Vegetables and Kale!