You Heart What You Eat: Mac ‘n Broccoleese

Tera Johnson-Swartz
Green is the new orange in pastas for Explore's food blogger

Green is the new orange in pastas for Explore’s food blogger, Tera Johnson-Swartz. Especially with her newest recipe, the Mac ‘n Broccoleese.

— My children are similar to every other child out there who fell in love with just about any version of mac ‘n cheese. Who could blame them though? It’s become practically a weekly staple these days when families are pressed for time. Still, while I’ve been notorious for splurging on an occasional Annie’s Mac ‘n Cheese box when the mood hits, I try to make my own homemade version whenever I can. Fortunately, it still hasn’t dawned on either of my kiddos that their mother grew up on the [gasp] Kraft and Velveeta brands long before Annie’s became available. Thus, who’d have thought it was these often controversial products that inspired me to make something a little bit healthier while retaining the deliciousness that got us all hooked in the first place.

Unless someone in our house had a dairy allergy or an obscure cheese aversion, I knew I couldn’t take away the creamy goodness I loved in every bite. However, I knew I could alter the quality of cheese we used, as well as fold healthy additions into the recipe. Next to spinach, one of my favorite vegetables to put into nearly every pasta dish is broccoli. If you think about it, to a kid, broccoli alone can be a bit overwhelming.

Here we have this stalky, mini-tree veggie that is not only difficult to cut up, but also has different textures that can quickly send a little newcomer running. Still, if you’re able to mask or compliment it with the right pairing, you can produce a broccoli lover for life, which is good when you find out this baby-tree is loaded with nutritional benefits. Leading in vitamin C (shocking, I know), broccoli’s levels surpass that of a glass of orange juice by about 120 percent. Add to that its impressive sources of vitamins A, B-6, and K, as well as a high dose of dietary fiber, and it should be enough to keep on your radar as a regular veggie at your table.

Below, is my classic mac ‘n broccoleese recipe. Green is the new orange in pastas at our house; see how it’s reviewed in yours.

Mac ‘n Broccoleese

1 (16 oz.) box macaroni pasta (whole wheat, quinoa, whatever you prefer)

1 bag frozen broccoli florets

2 tbs. butter (melted)

1 tsp. minced garlic

1⁄4 cup sour cream

1⁄4 cup freshly shredded or grated parmesan

3⁄4 cup freshly grated asiago, cheddar, and/or swiss cheese

2 tbs. milk (or substitute almond or soy)

Salt and pepper to taste

While your noodles are boiling, in a separate pot of boiling water, pour the bag of frozen florets. Boil until completely softened (about 5 to 10 minutes), drain and set aside. In a large bowl, combine butter, garlic, sour cream, cheeses and milk.

Pour drained and cooked pasta over the cheese mixture and fold until just combined. In a blender or food processor, puree the broccoli with just enough water so that most of the large stalk pieces are no longer noticeable. Fold broccoli puree into pasta cheese and transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is oozing and bubbly before serving with a side dish or fruit of your choice.


You Heart What Youe Eat is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you’ll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you’d like to include in one of our future blogs should be emailed to Tera Johnson-Swartz at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children  and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.