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We all look forward to game day; even those who aren’t big into sports anticipate game day for the snacks. We’re talkin’ heavy dips, addictive taco bites and dressed-up nacho platters that can’t be denied. The downfall is that, in most cases, this nosh isn’t exactly waistline-friendly. There are ways to indulge and not fumble on your clean-eating habits, however. Whether you lighten up on the dairy or sneak in a few servings of wholesome veggies, guilt-free game day snacking IS possible, and these 17 otherworldly mac and cheese recipes will help you stay on track.
1. Green Chile Mac and Cheese: This punchy mac is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Jalapeños bring the heat while the golden-baked panko-cilantro breadcrumb topping adds a satisfying crunch. No one will know this dish received a dairy-free makeover. (via The Veggie Chick)
2. Lightened-Up Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese: The best kind of lightened-up mac is one you’d never suspect, like this one. Despite the light cream cheese, low-fat milk and a lesser amount of cheese, this dish still comes out creamy and dreamy with chickpea pasta adding extra protein. (via Spice Is My DNA)
3. Healthy Mac and Cheese Pizza Style: Game day isn’t complete without pizza in some way, shape or form. Having it in the form of mac and cheese is totally acceptable, but with a healthy spin? One might think it’s a recipe for disappointment, but this twist uses Greek yogurt to introduce a level of creaminess and tanginess that is a *total* win. (via Food Faith Fitness)
4. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese: If you go bananas over butternut squash like the rest of us, you need this mac in your life. Non-fat milk, non-fat Greek yogurt and squash bring us the velvety richness we long for in a mac, just without the guilt. (via The Gourmet RD)
5. Zucchini Mac and Cheese: Every once in a while, plans sort of just fall into our laps; what we expected to be a lazy Sunday suddenly turns into an afternoon full of friends, football and food. This 15-minute mac is a scrumptious and nourishing solution to last-minute nosh demands. (via I Food Real)
6. Healthy Mac and Cheese With “Creamed” Spinach: Spinach dip is always a huge hit at game day gatherings, so there’s no reason as to why this healthier mac would be passed up. With minimal cheese, this GF bounty of pasta is still rich and delish. You also get a dose of greens, so there’s that. (via Feed Me Phoebe)
7. Healthy Mac and Cheese With Green Curry: This belly-warming mac brings a hint of spice to your palate with the addition of green curry. Despite the fact that this is indeed a skinny mac, it still delivers on all of that ooey gooey goodness we covet. Made in under 30 minutes, this dish can easily be turned vegan. (via Omnivore’s Cookbook)
8. Baked Fresh Herb Vegan Mac n’ Cheese: Nothing beats the essence of fresh herbs mixed in with soft and silky cheese. In this vegan version of the comfort classic, cashews and cannellini beans bring the creamy while nutritional yeast brings the cheesy. (via Veganosity)
9. Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese: If you’ve ever visited the South, you’ve learned that pulled pork and mac are a match made in heaven. Mixing the two together makes perfect sense, and adding broccoli to the mix to balance things out makes it even better. (via Alida’s Kitchen)
10. Feta and Red Pepper Mac and Cheese: Tangy feta and red bell peppers are a winning combination — that’s nothing new. But blending the dynamic duo into a healthy-ish mac and cheese? That idea is fresh AF and we are *all over it.* (via The Nude-Food Hero)
11. Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: This seasonal beauty is the *ultimate* comfort food and is perfect for game-day eats. It’s jam-packed with rich and warming flavors. Folks may not even notice the cauliflower! (via Spicy Ice Cream)
12. Healthy Crab Cake Mac and Cheese: Crab cakes are such a delicacy, and they don’t seem to pop up at gatherings quite enough. It’s time to change that, and this lightened-up mac is the perfect excuse to do so. In this recipe, nothing is fried and mayo has been denied; simply dig into some classic crab cake-y goodness. (via The Foodie and the Fix)
13. One-Pot Chili Mac and Cheese: Having a big pot of chili ready on game day is a must, but why not up your chili game by transforming it into a gooey mac and cheese? The best part is that it’s lightened up, so you can dig in for seconds and feel good about it. (via Spice Is My DNA)
14. Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese With Peas and Bacon: Cheese, pasta and bacon — oh my. This recipe brings a carbonara twist to a childhood fave, all while keeping it light and healthy. Thanks to the addition of Greek yogurt, this dish still delivers on that creamy richness we all love. (via Running to the Kitchen)
15. Oven-Baked Mac and Cheese With Broccoli and Mushrooms: When you have to break through a golden crust to get to your fluffy and soft mac and cheese, it’s a GOOD day. When you can get a full serving of veggies while eating said mac and cheese, even better. (Via Have Another Bite)
16. Portobello, Spinach and Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese: It’s not every day you get the luxury of seeing the words “comfort food” and “healthy” in the same sentence. Spinach and mushrooms bring heartiness and nutrition to this smokey and cheesy beauty without ruining any of those yummy flavors. (via Erica’s Recipes)
17. Healthy Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese: Prepare to have your mind blown, because this super tasty and incredibly creamy mac is totally on the lighter side. Tender roasted cauliflower florets brings extra heartiness to the dish, while crispy breadcrumbs help keep things on the decadent side. (via Whole and Heavenly Oven)
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