Mac N’ Cheese Please

Ever since I can remember my favorite food has been macaroni and cheese.

It used to be of the blue box variety. Spirals, shapes, mixed with hot dogs, you name it. I ate it.

Sometimes I went for the Velveeta option. Actually, in college, it was pretty normal for me to eat an entire box (!!!) of Velveeta macaroni and cheese after long hours studying in the library. With a can of dr. pepper. In my bed. Watching Sex and the City on DVD.Yes, I went there.

It’s just something about that cheesy, gooey sound when you stir together thick cheese sauce and hot noodles. You know what sound I’m talking about. Mm. Yeah.

However, since I’ve become much more aware of the food I put in my body, I’ve taken a step back to shy away from processed food as much as possible. Especially ingredients that I cannot read, pronounce, or that sound like an evil chemical or STD. Seriously read some of the scary ingredients on processed food labels and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Now-a-days I’ll make my macaroni and cheese from scratch, or if I’m feeling lazy and don’t have the time, I’ll cook up a batch of Annie’s Organic White Cheddar macaroni and cheese. At least the ingredient list is short and sweet, and consists of real food I can recognize.

So last week I was craving the creamy, cheesy noodle dish and planned to make it this week. I decided to go with a fool-proof recipe that I’ve made a few times now, and happens to be one of Eric’s FAVORITE things I have ever made. The original recipe came from Angela at OhSheGlows, and get this – it’s 100% vegan. I kid you not, it still is one of the tastiest macaroni and cheese dishes I have ever had and there is not one shred of cheese in the entire thing. How does she do it? I don’t know, but I’m so glad she does!

The recipe is somewhat intimidating at first glance, but after I’ve made it a few times now, I can practically do it with my eyes closed. Once I found nutritional yeast (bulk bin at Whole Foods), my life has not been the same. In case you have never heard of this nutritional powerhouse that has a nutty, cheesy taste (aha! that’s where the cheesy flavor shines through), here is a little bit of background from Wikipedia:

It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of parmesan cheese. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn. It can also be used in mashed and fried potatoes, as well as putting it into scrambled tofu or eggs. Some movie theaters offer it along with salt or cayenne pepper as a popcorn condiment.

I love that not only is it tasty, but it’s a complete protein and averages about 60 calories and 8.5 grams of protein per 2 heaping tablespoons. Sign me up. Douse tortilla chips with it. Bathe in it. Just go out and try it. Or better yet, try this recipe!

Tastiest Faux Mac N’ Cheese

(adapted from this recipe from OhSheGlows)

  • 1/2 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 of a large white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/5 c of raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • juice of 1 juicy lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 heaping Tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tsp of mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c of bread crumbs (or make your own vegan breadcrumbs like Angela)
  • 2 cups dry, uncooked pasta. I love to use whole wheat rotini
  • Paprika for garnish
    Start by chopping the onion, carrots and potato. Once chopped, add to a small sauce pan and fill with water until the vegetables are just covered. 
    Bring water to boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). You should also now preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) as well as bring enough water to a boil to cook the pasta. Once the pasta water is ready, cook pasta according to package directions. Strain and set aside. Meanwhile,  get out your cute little food processor (note: I have a four cup food processor, and it’s almost too small to handle the cheese sauce, but it works! If you have a larger one I recommend using this). Add the cashews to the food processor and process until the cashews form fine crumbs.
    Don’t go overboard here! Then add in the remaining cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth (milk, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, mustard and salt and pepper).
    Once vegetables are done, drain and rinse under cold water. Add the vegetables to the food processor (this is when mine is about to overflow), and process until smooth.
    Then stick your finger in and taste this deliciously, faux cheesy sauce (seriously how is there no cheese in this?!?).Now here is the fun part! Mix the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce and pour into a greased casserole dish.
    Top with breadcrumbs and a touch of paprika for the beautiful color.
    Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from oven and let cool (if you can handle to wait. this is when Eric gets impatient). Then dish up!
    You will be so happy you made this dish!

    In other news. I got two new books yesterday! Pictures of You and A Secret Kept (same author of Sarah’s Key – one of my favorite books of all time).

      I started Pictures of You last night after reading Jenna’s review. 50 pages in and I am already hooked! In fact, I tweeted how obsessed with the book I am and the author contacted me to send me a bookplate! WOW! Social media is AWESOME.
      Go read. Go eat. Enjoy your Wednesday.

      Here are a few FUN things I’ve stumbled across today:

    Morning Workout Motivators (from my favorite bloggers!)

    Peanut Butter Fudge Stuffed Cupcakes from How Sweet Eats (I mean HELLO YUM I need to make these stat)


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