Macaroni and cheese might be a favorite comfort food, but it’s not exactly known for being healthy — especially the store-bought boxes of mac ‘n’ cheese. (What exactly is in those powdered “cheese” packets, anyway?)
One glance at a nutrition label shows the cheesy pasta dish is typically packed with carbohydrates. A one-cup serving of Kraft mac contains 47 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of protein — but not much else. You’d have to pair this easy-to-make pasta dish with a heaping helping of vegetables to make it a balanced meal.
But what if you could get extra protein and nutrients from your mac ‘n’ cheese without having to add anything else? That’s the idea behind Kraft’s new “plant-powered” mac ‘n’ cheese.
What Is Plant-Powered Macaroni & Cheese?
Still sold in the famous blue box, Kraft’s plant-powered varieties are designed to taste the same as the classic Kraft Macaroni & Cheese — but with an extra nutritional boost.
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner With White Bean blends white beans into the pasta. Similar to the original, the white bean version contains 49 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of protein per prepared one-cup serving, and is free of artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes.
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner With Cauliflower adds dried cauliflower to the pasta. A prepared one-cup serving contains 46 grams of carbs and 9 grams of protein. According to the label, each serving of cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese is equivalent to ¼ serving of vegetables.
Is Plant-Powered Mac & Cheese Healthy?
Adding more plant-based foods to your weekly meal plan is always a good idea — but the plant-powered varieties of boxed mac aren’t the best way to accomplish that.
The reason: A quick comparison of the nutrition labels shows that the only major difference between the original and plant-powered versions is in the marketing.
While Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner With White Bean is marketed as a “good source of protein,” the nutrition label shows the same amount of protein per serving — 9 grams — as the original flavor. The same goes for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner With Cauliflower.
All three varieties — original, white bean, and cauliflower — also contain a similar amount of fat and carbohydrates per serving.
Should You Eat Kraft’s New Plant-Powered Mac & Cheese?
If you prefer the taste, sure. But while we love the idea of adding plant-based ingredients like cauliflower and white bean to mac ‘n’ cheese, these new flavors won’t add much in the way of extra nutrients.
Just like any mac ‘n’ cheese, you’ll still want to eat plant-powered mac in moderation. Your best bet? If you need some heat-and-eat plant-based meal ideas, check out some of our favorite vegan foods at Trader Joe’s. Or add some vegan options — made with whole fruits and veggies — to your weekly meal plan.