Say hello to your new favorite low FODMAP pasta recipe. Although there’s no meat in this oven-baked low FODMAP mac & cheese, it’s high in protein with the addition of edamame beans, brown rice pasta, lactose-free milk, and the cheese itself. Each portion contains over 16 grams of protein!
This recipe is one of my favourite low FODMAP recipes that I’ve ever made for the blog – not only because it’s delicious, but also because it’s a low FODMAP version of my mom’s classic mac & cheese. A true comfort meal in my family! For a bit of extra veg, I suggest serving it alongside some steamed veggies or low FODMAP salad.
As a dietitian specializing in IBS, I help TONS of clients to understand the ins and outs of following the low FODMAP diet. In my experience, a lot of people feel confused about dairy – is it ok for IBS? Should all dairy be avoided? Is macaroni & cheese a no-no?
Spoiler – certain types of dairy are totally FODMAP friendly. Let’s review!
Does low FODMAP mean dairy free?
You may think that all dairy is a FODMAP no-no, but not necessarily! The part of dairy products that makes them high FODMAP is the lactose, which is the natural sugar in these foods. It is fine to substitute regular milk products for lactose-free versions like lactose-free milk, yogurt, cream cheese, ice cream, etc.
Harder cheeses, however, are an interesting exception. Cheese that is quite firm like cheddar, parmesan, swiss, or havarti are actually relatively low in lactose naturally. The FODMAP research from Monash University states that 40 gram portions of these cheeses is low FODMAP. So, it’s fine to eat cheese on a low FODMAP diet – making this delicious low FODMAP mac & cheese recipe totally possible!
This recipe also has lactose-free milk in the sauce. Keep in mind, if you’ve been tested and confirmed not to be lactose intolerant, you can consume lactose on a low FODMAP elimination diet and therefore could use regular milk instead.
Ingredient Tips for the Best Low FODMAP Mac & Cheese
Is edamame low FODMAP?
Ahh, edamame – these little green soybeans pack a punch! They are very high in protein and are great for making vegetarian and vegan meals more filling. But, you may be thinking “what’s the deal with soy on a low FODMAP diet?” And that’s an excellent question. While some soy products are high in FODMAPs, like silken tofu, soy milk, and soy yogurt, many soy products are still FODMAP friendly.
Soybeans that are mature contain more FODMAPs than young, immature soybeans. Edamame beans are the latter (ie. the young beans that are harvested at an earlier time). Edamame is considered low FODMAP at ½ cup (without the shells) and moderate FODMAP at around 1 ½ cups.
Are panko breadcrumbs low FODMAP?
Panko is another confusing ingredient on the low FODMAP diet! According to Monash University, panko breadcrumbs are low FODMAP up to 1¼ cups. It makes sense that individuals following a low FODMAP diet may feel uncertain about this food, as it contains wheat (it is essentially made from bread after all). While we don’t have a great explanation for this, the flexibility of panko breadcrumbs is likely due to the manufacturing and dehydration of the wheat.
This recipe contains only 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs in total which should be well tolerated by most. Keep in mind, if you also need to follow a gluten-free diet, it’s best to substitute the regular panko for a gluten-free version.
How to Make Protein Packed Low FODMAP Mac & Cheese
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. While this preheats, prepare the gluten free macaroni pasta according to the package directions. I used brown rice pasta, but you could also use corn pasta or something with a few different grains such as Catelli gluten-free macaroni. Tip: In the last 3-4 minutes of cooking the pasta, add 1 cup of frozen shelled edamame to the pot. This will cook the edamame so you don’t have to microwave or boil it separately!
Be careful not to overcook your pasta. Gluten free noodles are notorious for falling apart if you cook them too long! It is best to cook the pasta until al dente (ie. still a bit firm). Once cooked, drain the pasta and quickly rinse it with cold water to stop it from cooking and to prevent sticking. Set the pasta aside.
Next, it’s time to prepare the cheese sauce – the greatest part of this recipe in my opinion!
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Once it has melted, add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Whisk this mixture well to remove any lumps. It should be thick and smooth.
Once the base of cornstarch and butter is ready, add 1½ cups of lactose-free milk to the pot slowly, stirring as you go. Allow the milk to become hot, then add 1¾ cups shredded cheese. Stir until all the cheese has melted and you are left with a thick, smooth cheese sauce. I let mine warm on a low heat to thicken a bit more, stirring often – this is a personal preference!
Let’s put it all together. Grease a medium casserole dish with butter or some vegetable oil. Add the cooked pasta and edamame into the casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce over top and mix well to coat. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese (or more cheddar cheese if you’d prefer) and panko breadcrumbs over top.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Optional finishing step: set the oven to broil for 30-60 seconds to brown the breadcrumbs slightly. Serve and enjoy!
Protein Packed Low FODMAP Mac & Cheese
- 400 grams gluten-free pasta I used brown rice pasta
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame beans
- 3 tbsp butter plus more for greasing the casserole dish
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1½ cups lactose-free milk
- 1¾ cups grated cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan optional for topping
- ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs Regular panko is FODMAP friendly, but swap to gluten-free panko if desired
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- In a large pot, prepare the gluten free pasta according to the package directions. In the last 3-4 minutes of cooking the pasta, add the frozen edamame to the pot. Do not overcook – it is best to cook the pasta until al dente (ie. still a bit firm). Drain the pasta and quickly rinse it with cold water to prevent sticking. Set the pasta aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Whisk well to remove any lumps. The mixture should be thick and smooth.
- Add lactose-free milk to the pot slowly, stirring as you go. Allow the milk mixture to become hot, then add shredded cheese. Stir until all cheese has melted and you are left with a thick, smooth cheese sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta and edamame into a casserole dish greased with butter or oil. Pour the cheese sauce over top and mix well to coat. Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs over top.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Optional finishing step: set the oven to broil for 30-60 seconds to brown the breadcrumbs slightly. Serve and enjoy!