My self-appointment purpose as a plant-based nutritionist is to recreate classic recipes in a healthy (and sneakily vegan) manner. One of my favorite challenges is to take on that task with comfort food.
I get a high watching my meat-eater friends and family dig into my food only to tell them it’s vegan after the fact.
‘I don’t believe you’
‘I would have never guessed’
‘You can see you can see yourself and your damn plant-based trickery out’
Are reactions I’ll never get sick of hearing. And damn, I nailed this one if I might say so myself.
A childhood (and hung-over) favorite. Mac-n-Cheese.
With the help of my good friends Mr. Butternut Squash, Madam Coconut Milk, and Non-Binary Nutritional Yeast, collectively we’ve created a dish that all mankind and their pets will love.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE:
- Creamy and hearty the way mac-n-cheese is intended to be without the indulgence hangover
- Subtly sweet with a kick of roasted garlic to keep those taste buds tango-ing
- Taste even better the day after! Make a large batch and take out as needed. You can even freeze it and bake again when ready to enjoy
- Make it your own! I kept this one simple but I will often add additional veggies like spinach, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, or bell peppers.
We love to pair this dish with the vegan Crispy Garlic Brussel Sprout recipe.
A NUTRITIONIST’S CHOICE:
Butternut squash is high in vitamin A. A vitamin that supports our immune systems and healthy vision. This is crucial as you’ll want to see the look on your friend’s faces when they dig into this recipe.
Both vitamins A and C are antioxidants, which additionally supply their own list of benefits. Read more here.
Vitamin C. An immune supporter, collagen producer, and wound and tissue repairer. Basically an anti-aging agent in bright delicious food. In just 1 cup of cooked butternut squash, you can receive up to 50% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, and guess what? This recipe has 2 ½!
Insoluble and soluble fiber. Many foods contain either one or the other but when you find a food that has both, well that’s what us nutritionists call a grand-slam! Soluble fiber dissolves in water turning into a gel-like substance which helps slow the digestion process of the food down. This is beneficial as it helps us feel fuller longer as well as feeds healthy gut bacteria along the way.
Insoluble fiber attracts water bulking up our stool allowing us to have more regular bowel movements. Both fibers allow us to keep our weight in check, lower risk of diabetes, and reduce our risk of major diseases such as breast and colon cancer.
Coconut milk. A delicious and extra creamy alternative to traditional dairy milk. Most famous for containing medium-chain saturated fatty acids also known as MCFAs whereas most fats are long-chain fatty acids. MFCA’s are more easily absorbed than their long-chain cousins. This means they head straight to the liver to be converted into energy. Long-chain fatty acids have to be broken down by the body before partaking in this breakdown process.
Coconut oil and coconut milk also contain an acid (lauric acid) that acts as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent in the body which can take down diseases causing organisms. Go coconut!
Nutritional Yeast. Protein, B vitamins, and trace minerals. Cheesy in taste, low in calories, and a vegan’s best friend. Gawwwd I love this food. 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast offers a whopping 2g of proteins and over 100% of the daily recommended intake of B vitamins. Particularly, highlighting vitamin B12 most commonly found in meat products. Although flaky in texture, this powerful vitamin shows up and works hard to produce DNA, support a healthy nervous system, create red blood cells, and metabolize energy. Can I get a ‘hell yes?!’ for our cheesy bffffff?!
Alright friends, let’s whip that drool off our faces and get to the good stuff!
Vegan Mac N Cheese
- 2 carrots medium
- 1 cup coconut milk full fat
- 1 box noodles (about 2 1/2 cups dry) I used Explore Cuisine's edamame noodles
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups butternut squash peeled
- Preheat oven to 400
- Breakup cauliflower into florets and lightly toss with olive oil
- Toss garlic cloves with olive oil and place on a line baking sheet along with cauliflower. Bake for 25 minutes tossing after 15.
- Cook noodles according to package
- Chop carrot and peel and chop butternut squash placing them in a pot with water. Bring to a boil until vegetables are tender and easy to puncture with a fork
- In a blender add carrots, butternut squash, roasted garlic, coconut milk, spices, nutritional yeast and vegetable broth. Blend for 1 minute or until smoothie.
- In a casserole dish, add cooked noodles and butternut squash sauce. Mix well
- Evenly distribute cooked cauliflower on top and bake for 20 minutes
- Dish up and enjoy!