Loaded with BBQ pulled pork and caramelized onions, you’d never guess that this is a healthier mac and cheese! Quick, easy and weeknight friendly!
This is the story of the time that I was 12.
Actually, that is giving myself way too much cred’. Let’s go with the time that I was 5.
I was driving home from the gym and I started thinking about this mac ‘n cheese. I then proceeded to start whining out loud and to myself (read: yelling at cars from the safety of my Jeep bubble) about how it’s so annoying that the road to my house from the gym is so long and straight. Why do I have to drive so far and in such a boring, straight line? Why can’t I just teleport between places so that I don’t have to drive these long, straight roads when I really just want to be rolling around in a bowl of creamy, cheesy, carby, smokey yum.
I wish I could tell you that I am kidding and this didn’t actually happen. Buuut then I would be lying.
See? I’m 5.
Also, patience = nowhere to be found in the land of Taylor. That’s a New Years resolution…that, like all good resolutions, will never happen.
Now, besides judging my lack of adult-ness (which I will allow) you are probably thinking “WHO EATS MAC ‘N CHEESE AFTER A WORKOUT?” and you are questioning this whole “Hi my blog is healthy” thang that I’ve got going on.
Well, THIS girl eats mac ‘n cheese after a workout.
Why? 1. ‘Cause I can and 2. I can ‘cause it’s skinny….er. Yesyesyes.
Okay, I know it’s another pulled pork recipe but I have SO MUCH PULLED PORK and I thought maybe you did too. If not, you should because who doesn’t like leftover pork on all. the. things? No one, that’s who.
A few things about this recipe that you should know:
- Don’t use almond milk here. I never ever use regular milk, as I thought almond milk could always be substituted. That was until I made mac ‘n cheese. I made this twice before with almond milk (it was a very predictable dinner week in the FFF household) and it was blech x12. My taste buds did a major mac ‘n cheese rejection dance that I don’t want yours to copy. Use milk, capeesh?
- If you want to make this more into a side dish, you could leave out the pulled pork. But, don’t.
- I tried making this all fancy schmancy for you guys and used hickory smoked Gruyere instead of some of the cheddar. You know what? It just wasn’t as good. So, save your dolla billz and get that old staple cheese friend, Cheddar.
- I added BBQ sauce to this because WHY NOT? Maybe it’s a little over the top. But, it isn’t.
- I used whole wheat noodles to make it all healthy and 🙂 for your waistline. If you don’t like ‘em just sub out whatever your belly desires.
- You could make it even lighter by using all milk instead of the fat free half and half. But, for the nominal calories that the half and half ads, don’t skimp out on that creaminess.
- This is actually a small batch recipe because I didn’t want to be eating leftover mac ‘n cheese for the next 42 years, as there is only 2 of us in the house. But, you can easily double (or triple if you wanna get craaaazy!) the recipe!
And the most important thing that you should know about this here bowl of steamy-melty-cheesy-oinky-noodly-face-plantable-deliciousness? The first time I made this it was not skinny in any sense of the word. It had lots of butter, and more of the fat free half and half than this version. You know what? Both me AND the hubs agreed that the skinny version was 500x better.
If nothing else…do it for the cheeseeeeeee.
- For the caramelized onions:
- 1 cups Small onion thinly sliced (about 1.5 )
- 1/2 Tbsp Butter
- For the Mac 'N cheese:
- 4 Oz Whole wheat macaroni noodles
- 1/4 Cup Milk I used 1%
- 1/4 Cup Fat-free half and half
- 1/8 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp Salt or to taste
- 1/4 tsp Pepper or to taste
- 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp Hickory Liquid Smoke
- 4 Oz Reduced-fat Cheddar Cheese grated and divided (about 1 packed cup)
- 1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp Low-sugar BBQ sauce I used KRAFT light BBQ sauce
- 1/4 Cup Cilantro diced
- 3/4 Cup Leftover pulled pork
- Preheat your broiler to HIGH heat. Spray a 1 quart casserole dishwith cooking spray and set aside
- To caramelize the onions:
- Melt the 1/2 Tbsp of butter in a medium sized pan over medium heat.
- Stir in the thinly sliced onions, making sure that the butter evenly coats all the slices.
- Turn the heat down to medium/low and stir the onions every 5 minutes or so until soft and golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- While the onions cook, it's time to make the mac 'n cheese.
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the macaroni noodles as your package directs, until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and return to the burner, on low heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, fat free half and half, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and liquid smoke.
- Pour the milk mixture over top of the noodles, and give it a good stir.
- Add in 3/4 cup of the cheese in small hand fulls, letting it begin to melt between each addition.
- Once the cheese has melted, stir in the caramelized onions, BBQ sauce (make sure you taste as you go, to get your desired level of smokiness), chopped cilantro and the pulled pork*. Stir well until everything is creamy and well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. **
- Broil for 2-4 minutes, depending on how crunchy and browned you like your cheese.
- Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve hot and devour!
Tips & Notes:
**You could leave the additional cheese off the top to make it even lighter...but don't. You could also serve this straight out of the pan without the broiler if you want it super creamy!
Recipes written and produced on Food Faith Fitness are for informational purposes only.
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