Slow Cooker Meal: Veggie-Loaded Light Mac and Cheese

I love mac and cheese. But then again, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love mac and cheese. I’m sure these people exist, and if I ever meet them I’m just not sure what I’d say. Or that I’d necessarily want to be friends with them (if I’m being honest). Let’s just say I’d have lots of questions, that’s for sure. I could say I’ve been craving mac and cheese lately, but I don’t think there’s ever a time when I DON’T think mac and cheese sounds good, so I suppose you can say I’ve been extra craving it.

Anyway, I knew when I was meal planning last week that I was going to have a serious case of the Monday’s this week, and my slow cooker would be the key to my success for dinner. I decided to make my life easy on Monday and whip up some slow cooker mac and cheese – minimal effort for cheesy, gooey deliciousness! We had a wedding reception Saturday night that lead to a pretty lazy Sunday. Good lord, recovering from those things is much harder at 32 and 35 than it was at 27, that’s for sure. I summoned the energy to do some meal prep Sunday evening though, because I already knew that Monday was going to be tiring. I of course couldn’t fall asleep on Sunday night and had to be up at 4:50am to make my 5:30am boot camp class I’m taking (WHAT WAS I THINKING?!). Going on about 5 hours of sleep I got my workout in and got to work. At lunchtime I went home and put everything in the slow cooker and let it do all the hard work while I finished working for the day.

And because life can’t be lived on pizza and steak and chicken wings and cheese no matter how much I wish it so, I loaded my mac and cheese up with veggies to make sure we got in a little healthiness for dinner, and also because it was the perfect excuse to use the rest of some frozen corn and broccoli I had in my freezer. I also added in some chopped kale and the rest of a tomato I had, and before I knew it I had four different vegetables incorporated into dinner. (Yes, I know that a tomato is technically a fruit, but whatever. It counts).

In addition, I lightened the pasta up as much as I could.  I love vegetable noodles and all that, but I wanted some good ol’ regular noodles, damn it! I chose Dreamfields pasta because to be honest it was the only elbow macaroni in the health food area of my grocery store, BUT I did peruse their website and have since learned that they have more plant-based fiber in their pasta than other brands. Dreamfields promotes what they call ‘Healthy Carb Living’, which basically means that it’s okay to eat carbs, just focus on portion sizes and the good carbs. Common sense, but as someone who can eat a whole box of Kraft Mac and Cheese in one sitting, willpower can be a bitch sometimes. I also used skim milk, organic butter, reduced-fat evaporated milk, and I have started buying organic cheese to grate myself instead of processed shredded cheese. It’s amazing how little changes can make a big difference in calories and fat.

It was perfect; dinner was all ready for us and I didn’t have to any work on Monday night except lounge in my sweatpants and go to bed super duper early.

Here is the link for Dreamfields Elbow Macaroni:

 

What is your favorite meal to make in the slow cooker?

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Veggie Loaded Light Mac and Cheese
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1, 12oz. can reduced-fat evaporated milk
  • 1 c. plain almond milk
  • One egg
  • 1 tbsp. organic salted butter
  • 8 oz. reduced fat Velveeta, cubed
  • 2 c. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2. c. broccoli (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 c. corn (thawed if frozen)
  • 2 handfuls chopped kale
  • 1 tomato, diced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl melt the tablespoon of butter. Add in the evaporated milk, almond milk, egg and butter, stir.
  2. Stir in the Velveeta, sharp white cheddar cheese and macaroni.
  3. Mix in your vegetables – broccoli, kale, corn and tomatoes.
  4. Spray your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and place the macaroni and cheese with vegetables into it. Cook on low for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
*Nutritional information calculated using Dreamfields elbow macaroni and the vegetables listed above

mac and cheese

 

Cheers!
Heather

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