A little extra boost in this protein Mac and Cheese fills you up and gets you going! Rich and creamy cheese, easily made gluten free and packed with cheese–a new family favorite dinner or side dish for sure!
Wow. What a whirlwind of a weekend. So much has happened and so much to feel good about. I feel like over and over and over again I come to write and I am sharing my trials and letdowns, but this weekend was a time that I got to see some of the beauty that has come of all of this mess.
First things first. Saturday I walked. I walked with women (and men) across the country that I have grown to love and cherish even without meeting them personally. I have become a part of a group I have mentioned through the women of Bumps to Baby. Together we participated in a virtual walk to raise awareness and bring support to those struggling with infertility. As you know, this is near and dear to my heart.
Even though we have moved on to the realm of adoption, this is still very much a part of who I am and who I have become over the last 5 years. Walking together, with our pineapple shirts, was so powerful and so beautiful. And for those of you who have supported along the way, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Saturday night, we received the final piece of the puzzle to put our book together for our adoption agency to promote us with. Our extremely talented cousin photographed us for the book and when I received the sneak peak, I cried. We never did engagement photos, so this was our first “family portrait” since our wedding over 6 years ago.
A part of my heart tugged because I looked at the pictures and was saddened to think that I thought our first pictures like this would have included our baby. But the overwhelming feeling I got staring at Anthony and Tux, my whole world, made it all right. Today I was able to get a lot done on the photo book and hope to have it done next week.
And then today was the biggest heart burst of all. Today, we ordered a crib for our nursery. We held out for a bit–partly because shopping for baby supplies was very overwhelming in general, and partly out of fear, but we set that aside and put some hope in the basket and let go.
That my friends, was so huge and so unbelievable. And it was nothing but a few clicks on the computer, but it was such a raw and beautiful moment. A moment we have waited for for years, and while there is still more waiting ahead, the realness is setting in. And it feels so magical.
So that was our weekend. How was yours? xoxo
Protein Mac and Cheese Time!
So now that you know my heart is full, it’s time to get those bellies full. For a long time, I only connected mac + cheese with sadness. It was one of those foods that friends of mine and I ate to heal broken hearts and cure bad days. I was deeply emotionally tied to this food and so I often avoided it.
But it was time to move on from this connection. Mac and cheese doesn’t have to be just comfort food, it can be nourishing, fuel for the body. And maybe a little comforting as well. Recently, I came across a pasta called Banza that was made out of none other than chickpeas.
What? Chickpeas?! That can’t be good! Oh but it is. And the added bonus is that it is full of protein. Yes! I will take that. So I added this pasta as well as some Greek Yogurt to give this baked goodness a big kick of protein so that you are fueled from it and not ready for a nap!
You don’t have to use the Banza pasta if you don’t want to, but I really like the texture as well as the benefits. If you are looking to keep it gluten free, use gluten free panko crumbs and you are set. This pairs well as a dinner side or can easily be a meal. I added peas to mine one night, but Anthony is not on board with those so he went pea free. At any rate, dig in and enjoy!
What to serve with this Protein Mac and Cheese:
You can certainly eat this protein Mac and cheese as your dinner in and of itself. But there are plenty of great things to enjoy along with it.
- Break out the slow cooker and make this Simple Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Chicken to serve along with this protein Mac and cheese. The perfect combo!
- Burgers are also perfect to serve along with macaroni and cheese. Try these Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers or my FAAAAVORITE Cilantro Lime Black Bean Burgers.
- Butter Herb Instant Pot Salmon anyone?
- Some grilled chicken or a nice steak along with these Roasted Maple Balsamic Brussels sprouts also sounds amazing to me.
- We love Mac and cheese with Chicken Fingers. These Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Tenders are a hit every time in our house!
Protein Packed Baked Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz. Banza shell pasta or pasta of choice
- 1/2 c shredded white cheddar
- 1/4 c plain Greek Yogurt
- 1/3 c milk of choice
- 1/4 c panko/breadcrumbs gluten free if needed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- dash of paprika
- dash of cumin
- dash of crushed red pepper
- sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Boil and cook pasta as directed by box instructions.
- Drain pasta and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine milk and Greek yogurt over medium heat.
- Whisk frequently to combine.
- Slowly add in cheese and whisk to form sauce.
- Add in pasta and stir to combine. Add in 1/2 of the panko or breadcrumbs as well.
- Pour pasta into a 6x8 or 8x8 baking pan lightly coated with olive oil.
- Sprinkle remaining panko or breadcrumbs over top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until top is browned as desired.