Light Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach

Total Time
Prep 10 mins
Cook 45 mins

This updated recipe illustrates how you can lower the saturated fat, without sacrificing the rich, cheesy taste, in classic macaroni and cheese. A layer of spinach in the center adds flavor and nutritional value. From Cooking Club

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Heat oven to 400F.
  2. Spray 8" square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the milk and flour until smooth.
  4. In heavy medium saucepan, heat remaining 1 1/2 cups milk over medium heat until steaming.
  5. Add flour mixture; cook 2-3 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens, whisking constantly.
  6. Remove from heat; stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
  7. Stir in cottage cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  8. Cook spinach according to package directions; drain.
  9. Rinse under cold running water; squeeze out excess moisture.
  10. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling lightly salted water 4-5 minutes or until not quite tender, stirring often.
  11. (Macaroni will continue to cook while baking.) Drain; rinse with cold water.
  12. Drain again.
  13. In large bowl, stir together cheese sauce and macaroni.
  14. Spread half of the macaroni mixture in baking dish; spoon spinach over top.
  15. Spread remaining macaroni mixture over spinach layer; sprinkle with wheat germ.
  16. (Dish can be made to this point and refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator before baking.) Bake 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden.
  17. TIP*If you can't find wheat germ, substitute an equal amount of Parmesan cheese, cracker crumbs or bread crumbs.
  18. VARIATION: To make Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Peppers, substitute 1 cup grated pepper Jack cheese for 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.
  19. Omit the nutmeg.
  20. Add 1 (4 1/2-oz.) can chopped mild green chiles, 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro and dash cayenne pepper to cheese sauce.
  21. Omit spinach.
  22. Instead, cook 2 cups thawed frozen pepper stir-fry vegetables in 1 teaspoon olive oil 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.
  23. Replace spinach with pepper mixture.


Most Helpful

I was on a soft food diet as a result of a dental injury this Thanksgiving. I chose to make this as a side dish for the family and as a main course for me, and it was a hit all around. Many baked mac & cheese recipes can be rather bland, but the extra sharp cheddar makes it quite flavorful. Despite the "light" in its name, I was a little concerned about the fat content ( 52% DV saturated fat - ouch!) , so I used skim milk and non-fat cottage cheese and it was still extremely rich and tasty. I also used whole wheat pasta and fresh rather than frozen spinach. I doubled the recipe and cooked it in a 13"x9" casserole dish - perfect! This is one of those dishes that tastes even better as next-day leftovers.

fluffington November 27, 2009

This was great! It definitely didn't taste like a "light" macaroni & cheese. I made a couple adjustments - I just stirred in some fresh spinach to the cheese sauce before tossing with the macaroni, I added some garlic powder with the salt & pepper, and I used a mix of parmesan cheese & bread crumbs on the top. I loved the crunchy top layer! I think the key to this is seasoning the cheese sauce really well.

Southern Bug August 12, 2010

We don't usually eat dairy products in our family, so when we spurlge, the recipe had better be a good one! This recipe fits the bill. It was simple to prepare, and was promptly devoured by the family. Although I don't think any dairy based recipe can be truly healthy, this recipe was about as healthy as you can get with mac and cheese. The nutmeg was an especially tasty addition. We'll make this again, the next time we want to indulge ourselves.

Lola68 October 31, 2003

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