Mac & cheese, slightly healthified

mac & cheese with broccoli

This recipe is a blend of two instant pot mac & cheese recipes: one from Dad Cooks Dinner and one from this cookbook. It is a popular supper paired with steamed broccoli. Leftovers are also very popular in the next day’s lunch.


  • Instant pot



  • 454g (1 lb) macaroni
  • ~10g butter
  • 1/2 T yellow mustard
  • 1/2 T spicy, seedy mustard
  • 1/2 T kosher salt
  • several dashes hot sauce
  • 4 c water
  • 500g cauliflower (frozen works really well)


  • 50 mL skim milk powder + 200mL water, mixed together
  • ~150g grated cheese (cheddar, gruyère, parmesan are great together for this)


  • ~75g whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • chopped parsley and/or thyme


  • Combine all macaroni ingredients in Instant Pot with cauliflower on top. Cook at high pressure 4 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release.
  • Mix in prepared milk (milk powder + water) and cheese.
  • Pour into prepared, lightly greased pan. Top with breadcrumbs and herbs.
  • Put in to bake at 350F while the rest of the meal finishes.
  • About 5-10 minutes before you want to serve it, if the top isn’t already brown, broil lightly for a couple of minutes to brown the top.
  • Let sit a few minutes to firm up before cutting and serving.


Makes 8 servings. (Although the 16-year-old eats 2 servings at a time, so perhaps this is actually 6-7 servings?)


Last time I made this, I used 86g cheddar, 52g gruyère and 12g parmesan. Divided into 8, each serving had: 331 calories, 44.9 g CHO, 3.1 g fibre, 14.3 g protein, 9 g fat. Even though the count isn’t that high, this meal does best for me with a protein & fat bolus.

I have tried freezing and baking this, and was not pleased with the results. It was ok, but it took a really long time and the texture was off.

We also tried this with whole wheat mac & cheese, and it just wasn’t as good. We eat whole wheat pasta routinely, but for this recipe, we use regular pasta. I could probably figure this out by playing with timing but I just don’t care enough. Pasta hits about the same whether it’s whole wheat or regular so, for the occasional times we make this, it doesn’t feel worth the effort to further healthify it.

If you don’t have an instant pot, you could probably just make this on the stovetop. I’m sure you could use an old school pressure cooker, too. (Side note: I spent a winter in my early twenties working as cook and first mate on a charter sailboat in the Bahamas, where I learned to appreciate and respect a pressure cooker. There’s nothing like the risk of blowing a hole through the side of the boat to focus your attention on the cooker pressurizing on the gimballed stove. I did not make mac & cheese, but I sure figured out thirty-seven different ways to cook and serve crawfish.)