If you’re looking for a healthier version of mac and cheese, look no further than this Baked Protein Mac and Cheese! Made with whole wheat pasta, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt, this dish is packed with protein and will keep you full for hours.
Macro Breakdown & Calories
- Calories: 460
- Carbohydrates: 45 g
- Protein: 44 g
- Fat: 12 g
Lentil pasta is an excellent substitution for traditional wheat pasta. It is high in protein and fiber and has a lower glycemic index than wheat pasta, so that it won’t cause your blood sugar to spike quickly. You can also go for a different legume (like chickpeas).
Skim milk is lower in calories and fat than whole milk but still contains all the nutrients your body needs. The milk works as a binder in this recipe and helps to make the sauce creamy. Almond milk is a great choice. Just use unsweetened almond milk so your dish isn’t too sweet.
If you are looking for a lower-calorie option, you can use nonfat cottage cheese. Low-fat cottage cheese is full of protein and calcium, both essential for bone health. I would recommend whipping your cottage cheese beforehand for a creamier consistency.
Low-fat Greek yogurt is an excellent protein, calcium, and probiotics source. It also adds a nice thick and creamy texture to this recipe. Make sure to choose plain yogurt so that no other flavors interfere with the dish.
Onion powder and garlic powder are all great seasonings that add flavor to this dish. You can also add some salt and pepper to taste.
Low-fat cheddar cheese is a classic mac and cheese flavor, but you can use any type of cheese you like. I would recommend a sharp cheddar for the best flavor. I also used low-fat shredded cheese to make this a more protein-centered recipe.
Parmesan cheese is a complex, salty cheese high in protein and fat. It compliments this dish and adds just a touch of rich flavor.
How To Make Baked Protein Mac and Cheese
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, cook the pasta in a large pot according to the box instructions. However, you may want to take it out of the water for 1-2 minutes before it’s ready to keep the pasta from getting soggy later.
Drain the pasta when it’s ready and place it back in the pot. Turn the heat on super low and mix the milk, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and seasoning. As mentioned above, I’d whip the cottage cheese before mixing it in for an even creamier texture next time.
Then, gradually mix the cheddar cheese and parmesan a little, so it doesn’t clump up. Once everything is mixed in, turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a baking dish.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Swap The Pasta
- Feel free to use any pasta you have on hand for this recipe. While lentil pasta is higher in protein, whole-wheat pasta offers fiber and some protein.
- You can also use different shapes of pasta, as well.
Change The Flavor
- If you’re not a fan of cheddar cheese, you can use any other type of cheese in its place. I would recommend trying gouda, asiago, or another semi-hard cheese.
- If you like your mac and cheese with a little kick, try adding some red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce to the recipe.
- Add veggies to this recipe by adding cooked broccoli, spinach, or diced tomatoes.
- You can also top your mac and cheese with diced onions, peppers, or green onions.
How To Store & Meal Prep:
Store this recipe in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop until warmed through.
This recipe isn’t the best meal prep meal because I find the cheese can doesn’t always reheat evenly, but if you don’t mind the texture, it will make for a simple, high-protein lunch or dinner.
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About The Author
Kelsey Butler is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s in Nutrition Sciences. She is an expert in nutrition research, coaching, content creation, and recipe development. Kelsey takes a mindful approach towards health and values building relationships with all foods. She understands the importance of providing recipes that anyone can enjoy, no matter their dietary needs. When she’s not focusing on nutrition, Kelsey has a passion for cooking, the outdoors, running, and travel.