Creamy Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy Cajun Chicken Mac and Cheese | www.withpeanutbutterontop.com
This is a macaroni and cheese dish that you can feel good about eating – without the typical guilt that hits you when you have eaten more than one (or two) servings of the boxed kind. We are all guilty of this. I can be honest and say that I’ve eaten an entire box on more than one occasion. Maybe not all at once, but within the span of a day. The leftovers were no longer leftovers, but my second/third meal.
Anyone else ever add to their mac and cheese? Perhaps additional cheese? No need to run and hide in shame. The cheese is the best part! Right??

Being a major macaroni and cheese fan (hell, pasta in general), I wanted to still have my cake and eat it, too. I want to be able to have my small indulgences without fear of my pants shrinking in the dryer.
(The dryer is the devil, I know.)
I find that it’s best to cut back on the cheese, heavy creams and such and replace it with greek yogurt. I’m sure you’ve all tried it. I also find that it helps to cut back on your pasta intake by adding vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or peas to the dish. Not only are you adding a vegetable to your plate, but you’re cutting back on calories.
I call it “fluffing” the dish. Kind of like adding chopped mushrooms to your ground beef/turkey/chicken on taco night. It increases the number of servings while incorporating a vegetable!

This week I chose to take the vegetable route – with, you guessed it, cauliflower! Now, although it may stink up your house (am I the only one that thinks cooked cauliflower smells weird??), it is such a bland/neutral vegetable that it can be easily added to any pasta dish without affecting the flavor of the dish itself.
I also used a veggie cheese (again, hello veggies!), rather than regular cheese, but feel free to swap out the veggie cheese for the equivalent in regular.

 

Creamy Cajun Chicken Mac and Cheese | www.withpeanutbutterontop.com
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Creamy Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 458 kcal

Ingredients

Mac & Cheese:

  • 2 1/4 cup whole grain medium shells or pasta of choice
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups Go Veggie Cheddar Shreds or cheese of choice
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (approx. 265g)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Chicken:

  • 8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast, 1
  • 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Garnishments:

  • 1/2 cup Go Veggie Cheddar Shreds or cheese of choice
  • Dash of dried basil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a Ziploc bag, combine the chicken, oil, lemon juice & seasonings. Close and toss to coat the chicken breast evenly. Place bag into the fridge to marinate for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Once the chicken has marinated, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Place one pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package, until al dente.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, cut the cauliflower into small florets and steam until they have softened.
  5. Place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once heated, spray with non-stick cooking spray, add the chicken breast and season it with a pinch of smoked paprika, salt, and garlic powder. Cover the chicken with a lid and allow the chicken breast to cook through, flipping every 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, set aside and allow to cool before dicing.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, save 1/4 cup of the pasta water & strain the rest. Place the pasta back into the pot with the baby spinach, stir, and cover to allow the spinach to wilt. In a mixing bowl combine the pasta water, Greek yogurt, almond milk, cheese, and remaining seasonings for the macaroni listed.
  7. After mixing, add in the cooked cauliflower and transfer the yogurt cheese mixture to the pot of pasta and stir well.
  8. Spray a medium baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Scoop the pasta mixture into the dish, spread evenly, and garnish with cheese, seasonings, & diced chicken. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Nutrition Facts
Creamy Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 458 Calories from Fat 137
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15.2g 23%
Saturated Fat 0.7g 4%
Cholesterol 34.4mg 11%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 43.8g 15%
Dietary Fiber 7g 28%
Sugars 4.9g
Protein 39.7g 79%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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