Zesty Healthy Mac and Cheese (Lower Calorie)

My Great Grandmother’s Zesty Healthy Mac and Cheese made healthier and lower calorie with the same zestiness.

Pin Healthy Mac and Cheese here.

My Great Grandmother's healthy mac and cheese recipe made healthier and lighter. Still so creamy and delicious

Let me introduce you to Nannie, my maternal Great Grandmother. She was a tiny lady that lived to be 93 years old and lived in her home by herself pretty much until the end. Sadly she was gone before my daughter was born, but I count my lucky stars that I grew up with three Great Grandmother’s in my life. Nannie lived the longest and did live long enough to attend my wedding. I have an awesome wedding video that I can see her on the dance floor with my cousin. She was so embarrassed but happy at the same time.

Every New Year’s Day, Nannie hosted the family at her house. She always made Mac and Cheese, this particular recipe. There was also the infamous clam dip that no one liked, but everyone pretended to love it. While I was growing up, we lived mostly away from family. My Dad was in the Air Force and we moved regularly. So my memories of being with my family are especially poignant.

When I was a kid, my cousins and I would go into Nannie’s tiny bedroom and pretty much destroy her bed. We would run from the door and dive on her bed. The object was to slide off the bed with her comforter and all pile on each other. We would be giggling and screaming so loud, that eventually an adult would come in and chastise us for destroying Nannie’s bed.  Nannie never cared. She would stick up for us and tell the parent to let us be. Nannie’s word ruled.

My Great Grandmother's Macaroni & Cheese recipe made healthier and lighter. Still so creamy and delicious

We always asked Nannie for her Mac and Cheese recipe, but she never measured anything. Like so many family recipes it was in her head and heart. One time my Mom made it with her and made sure everything was measured so that we would have the recipe for posterity. We were so shocked to see some of the ingredients. She always put in a little powdered coffee creamer, like a tablespoon, into it. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found the recipe does not need it. She also put in a lot of horseradish cream sauce, and about three different kinds of mustard. I’m not kidding when I call this Macaroni & Cheese Zzzesty.

I’ve been trying to make it healthier and lighter for years. The problem was the cheese. She always used Velveeta and an extra sharp cheddar, and I wanted to use something a little less processed than the Velveeta.  I tried various reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese brands with no luck. It wasn’t until Beemster Cheese sent me some samples that I got the true taste of her mac and cheese. (Beester is not paying for this post, BTW) Their light cheese along with a melting cheese was absolutely perfect. My heart soared with the first bite. This was Nannie’s Healthy Mac and Cheese minus a few calories and fat grams. Hallelujah! Try Nannie’s Healthy Mac and Cheese and let me know what you think.

My Great Grandmother's Macaroni & Cheese recipe made healthier and lighter. Still so creamy and delicious

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Healthy Nannie's Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

Course Main Dish, Pasta, Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 281 kcal
Author Christie Daruwalla


  • 1 lb . whole-wheat macaroni or penne
  • 3 tbsp . whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 16 oz . shredded Beemster Lite Cheese
  • 8 oz . shredded Beemster Vlaskaas cheese
  • 3 tbsp . spicy brown mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp . grainy mustard
  • 2 tbsp . Horseradish
  • 2 tsp . Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp . kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp . pepper
  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 2 tomatoes , sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 350•. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook pasta a couple of minutes short of the manufacturers suggested cooking time. Drain.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the whole wheat flour and milk. Continue to whisk until milk thickens.
  4. Add a small handful of cheese and whisk until fully melted. Continue to slowly add the cheese, whisking until each addition has melted.
  5. Whisk in next 6 ingredients.
  6. Turn off the heat and whisk in sour cream.
  7. Stir in pasta.
  8. Pour into the baking dish.
  9. Sprinkle on panko breadcrumbs and place tomatoes on top.
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  11. Take foil off and bake for another 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

I calculated 9 Weight Watcher smart points

Nutrition Facts
Healthy Nannie's Zesty Macaroni and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 281 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 2g
Protein 19g 38%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Happy Healthy Eating,


But wait, there is more. Check out these deliciously, healthy pasta recipes:

Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce

My new favorite pasta dish! Healthy Shrimp and Grits Style Pasta

Shrimp & Grits Style Pasta

Skillet Pasta Primavera with Sausage

Skillet Pasta Primavera with Sausage

My Great Grandmother's Macaroni & Cheese recipe made healthier and lighter. Still so creamy and delicious

Food Done Light is on a mission to keep passion for food but find ways to fit it into a healthy life and hopefully, along the way, change eating habits for good. Healthy living one bite at a time is our motto. You will find heart healthy recipes with Weight Watcher points, and most of all the recipes are delicious. Just ask the Food Done Light family which includes my husband, 9-year-old daughter, Lucy, our 7 yr old Golden Retriever, and Stella, our 12-year-old cat. Find Food Done Light on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.


  1. I haven't heard of this cheese Christie, where can I find it or is it only in the South? Also, I loved your story about your Nannie. Brought back my memories of my Nanny! <3
  2. Lynn Palmatier says
    Christie, this story brings back so many happy memories of our Nannie. She is still missed! I'm sure she would be so proud of you for making her macaroni and cheese recipe healthy, but still delicious.


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