Beet mac and cheese is a twist on the classic comfort food that many of us love to indulge in.
Traditional mac and cheese recipes are often high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can be detrimental to our heart health.
That is why this heart healthy mac and cheese recipe will not only satisfy your craving for this comfort meal but also provides essential nutrients that support cardiovascular health.
Try this beautiful bright pink beet pasta sauce that is almost too pretty to eat.
Pin It Now & Make It Later!
Why Is It Heart Healthy?
More specifically, this pink macaroni uses beets, a nitrate-rich vegetable that helps to increase nitric oxide production, and beans, a great source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, to create a delicious and heart-healthy dish.
Beets are the star of the show in this beet mac and cheese dish. They are responsible for creating this vibrant, beautiful pink beet pasta color.
Beets are considered heart-healthy because they are a great source of dietary nitrates. Nitrates are compounds found in certain foods that can be converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, which means it helps to widen blood vessels and improve blood flow. This can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (1).
In addition to nitrates, beets are also a good source of vitamins and minerals that support heart health, such as potassium, magnesium, and folate. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and supporting healthy blood vessel function.
Beans are considered heart-healthy because they are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease, so consuming foods that can help lower cholesterol levels can be beneficial for heart health.
Soluble fiber works by binding to cholesterol in the small intestine, preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, soluble fiber can help to reduce the amount of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, in the blood. By lowering LDL cholesterol levels, soluble fiber can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
In addition to their high fiber content, beans are also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are important for heart health. For example, beans are rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure, and magnesium, which is essential for healthy heart function, and plays a vital role in the DASH diet.
This combination of vegetables, pasta, and beans provides a perfect combination of fiber, fat, and protein for this heart healthy mac and cheese recipe.
One serving of this recipe has
- 20 grams of protein
- 9 grams of fiber
- 303 mg of sodium
- with only 3 grams of saturated fat!
Mac and cheese is notoriously high in sodium. In fact, most mac and cheese recipes have around 600 – 1000 mg of sodium per meal. That is a lot, considering we want to try to keep our sodium around 1500 mg for optimal heart health which is around 500 mg per meal.
For this low sodium mac and cheese recipe were able to keep the sodium down to 300 mg per serving. This makes it a low sodium mac and cheese recipe, which fits into the heart healthy mac and cheese theme we were trying to achieve.
Please enjoy this recipe, if you are looking for a delicious low sodium mac n cheese or low salt mac and cheese that will keep you full, and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol to boot!
This heart healthy mac and cheese recipe is made up of the following ingredients:
- your pasta of choice
- olive oil – essential in the DASH diet vs Mediterranean Diet. Did you know olive oil can reduce blood pressure too?
- red beets – 2 medium. The recipe walks you through how to cook your own beets, or you could purchase pre-cooked beets like this brand of Love Beets (not sponsored)
- garlic and yellow onion – are staples of the Mediterranean diet and Mind diet for flavor and antioxidants
- white kidney beans – as mentioned, provide cholesterol-lowering fiber, and plant protein as part of the Portfolio diet, and create a creamy texture. These are also a staple in the diet after stent placement.
- Parmesan, and gruyere – you can’t have mac and cheese without the cheese. These two kinds of cheese are lower in saturated fat and only use a small quantity to protect your heart health. They have strong flavors, which is a trick to be able to use less cheese but maximize the flavor.
- nutritional yeast – this helps to make your pasta sauce a little cheesier and savory (without the saturated fat!)
- vegetable broth – choose low sodium or no salt added here!
- milk — or plant-based milk like soy milk works well too
How to Make Creamy Vegan Pink Sauce
The creaminess of this roasted beet pasta sauce comes from the white beans. They are an incredible source of protein and blend so well to create this incredibly smooth texture. I’ve also added these beans in smoothies to make a white bean smoothie, or DASH diet smoothies.
You can break down the steps to the recipe to:
- First – Roast The Beets
- Second – Cook The Pasta
- Third – MakeThe Sauce
As mentioned above, you can roast your own beets, or buy them pre-cooked. I roast my own for this recipe because I love roasting them with garlic cloves for added flavor and nutrients.
Once they are done, you can add them and the white beans together in the blender to create the sauce.
Then in a sauté pan, cook the onion, and add the puree beet mixture, vegetable broth, cheeses, nutritional yeast, and milk to create the creamy pink beet pasta sauce
Then combine the sauce with the cooked pasta, and voila! You make this beautiful, filling pink macaroni dish that will wow yourself, and your guests!
Pair it with a nice green salad, and top it with pine nuts for added texture.
This low sodium macaroni and cheese can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Although I do like eating this recipe fresh as leftovers don’t reheat well, as the pasta tends to dry out.
Other Beet Recipes
Other Low Sodium Recipes
I have a few low sodium recipes on my site that I encourage you to look into if you are watching your sodium intake.
They include: low sodium mayonnaise, low sodium breakfast idea, low sodium instant pot recipes, low sodium hot chocolate, low sodium marinara sauce, low sodium pancakes, low sodium oatmeal recipes, low sodium salsa, low sodium dips, low sodium hummus, low sodium taco seasoning, DASH diet smoothies, DASH diet desserts, DASH diet soups, tofu bolognese, beet mac and cheese… to name a few.
Other Pasta Recipes
This beet mac and cheese recipe is an excellent option for anyone looking to improve their heart health while still enjoying comfort food.
By incorporating beets and beans, we add essential nutrients that support cardiovascular health. The nitric oxide in the beets helps to dilate blood vessels, reducing blood pressure, while the soluble fiber in the beans helps to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
We hope you give this recipe a try and discover a new, heart-healthy way to enjoy mac and cheese!
So next time you’re in the mood for some mac and cheese, try making a colorful and nutritious beet mac and cheese instead. Your heart will thank you.
Recipe by Marissa Frodsham, Nutrition Student. Article was written by Veronica Rouse, MAN, RD, CDE.
Beet Mac And Cheese
- 1 Food Processor
- 1 Baking sheet
- 1 Sauce pan
- 2 cups Penne or macaroni noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium red beets
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup yellow onion diced
- 1 cup white kidney beans rinsed
- ¼ cup parmesan grated
- ¼ cup gruyere grated
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ cup vegetable broth no salt added
- ¼ cup milk (skim or 2%)
- ⅛ tsp Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Wash and peel the skin from 2 medium beets, cut into large chunks. Toss beets and 3 garlic cloves (peeled) in 1 tsp olive oil and wrap in foil.
- Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until beets are tender to the fork.
- While the beets are in the oven, grate the cheese, dice onion and set aside.
- Rinse white kidney beans.
- Place the cooked beets and garlic cloves into a food processor with the white kidney beans and puree until smooth.
- Boil a medium pot of water and cook noodles according to instructions until al-dente (approx. 8-10 minutes).
- In a medium-large pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add yellow onion and sauté for 2 minutes until slightly golden.
- Add beet puree mixture to the pan, add vegetable broth and stir to combine.
- Fold in the cheeses and nutritional yeast, adding milk, salt and pepper.
- Stir until cheese in melted.
- Drain pasta and add noodles to the sauce tossing until combined.
- Serve and enjoy!