Creamy Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

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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

Creamy Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

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

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:

  • 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.
  • Once the chicken has marinated, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place one pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package, until al dente.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut the cauliflower into small florets and steam until they have softened.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After mixing, add in the cooked cauliflower and transfer the yogurt cheese mixture to the pot of pasta and stir well.
  • 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.
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NUTRITION:

Nutrition Facts
Creamy Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 458 Calories from Fat 137
% Daily Value*
Fat 15.2g23%
Saturated Fat 0.7g4%
Cholesterol 34.4mg11%
Sodium 1mg0%
Carbohydrates 43.8g15%
Fiber 7g28%
Sugar 4.9g5%
Protein 39.7g79%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Disclaimer:The nutritional information provided on each recipe on With Peanut Butter on Top is given as a courtesy and as approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Nutritional information varies per brand/product. We recommend using an app to calculate full and accurate nutrition based on your ingredients used per recipe. Thank you! 🙂
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