How to Have Mac and Cheese and Still Feel Amazing

Mac and cheese
Photo Credit: Loving it Vegan

Updated Feb 21, 2019 @ 10:59 pm

Beth Lipton is a writer and certified health coach. She is a contributing editor at Clean Plates.

Mac and cheese: The ultimate comfort food. If we were playing Family Feud right now, and the clue was “comfort foods,” mac and cheese would absolutely be in the top 3, probably no. 1.

But as you know, diving into a bowl of this wondrous dish can leave you feeling less than awesome. Still, life is just too short to live without it. So we set out to find versions of mac and cheese that stay within your preferred eating style, but also give you that hit of rich indulgence. So you can have your mac and eat it, too.

Baked mac and cheese
Photo Credit: Loving it Vegan

If you’re vegan.

A baked, creamy mac and cheese with a crunchy topping that’s completely plant-based? Oh yeah, baby. Thanks to rich coconut milk as the base of the cheesy sauce (with nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor) and some strategic spices, this one really scratches the mac-and-cheese itch.
Get the recipe: Classic Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese from Loving it Vegan

Cauliflower mac and cheese
Photo Credit: Organically Mandy

If you’re paleo.

There are so many things to love about this recipe—but our favorite is the fact that even though it’s dairy free, it’s still orange, just like the boxed mac from our childhoods. But the nostalgic hue in this healthy dish comes from fiber- and potassium-rich butternut squash, not lab-created artificial color, so we love it even more. With bacon, nutritional yeast and cauliflower instead of noodles, it’s rich and hearty but still caveman-friendly.
Get the recipe: Much Loved, Dairy-Free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese from Organically Mandy

Keto mac and cheese
Photo Credit: Wholesome Yum

If you’re keto.

Love the mac and cheese but ditching the high carb count? With this cauliflower-based version, you get that flavor and richness (thanks to butter, cheddar, and heavy cream), but only 7g net carbs. Would it be wrong to put this amazing sauce on our entire lives? Asking for a friend…
Get the recipe: Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Keto Cheese Sauce from Wholesome Yum

Gluten-free mac and cheese
Photo Credit: Feed me Phoebe

If you’re gluten-free.

Extra points to this recipe for including a generous amount of spinach. With a sauce made from almond milk and health-boosting broth, and the addition of sophisticated shallots, this is definitely a grown-up mac and cheese. But don’t worry—there’s still plenty of cheese.
Get the recipe: Health Mac and Cheese with “Creamed” Spinach from Feed me Phoebe

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