First off, NO I am not vegan (nor do I think I’ll ever be) but I do love exploring all different types of foods especially when that means that I can have a healthier dish with simple replacements. As part of Operation Cleanse, an online cleansing program I created (learn more about it here), I guide you on a sugar free, dairy free, gluten free and animal protein free diet for 14 days. To keep my clients excited during the program, I explored ways to spice up some my favorites. I found an awesome vegan mac and cheese recipe using nutritional yeast. If you have never heard of nutritional yeast, I highly recommend it – it seriously tastes just like parmesan cheese. Being dairy free is something tend to encourage and if you love cheese, this is a great replacement.
I’m terrible at following instructions so I improvised a bit from the recipe I found and this was the result. I encourage you to do the same, don’t always follow a recipe to the T, add the ingredients you love! You may be pleasantly surprised at the result.
- For the cheese sauce:
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 3 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast powder (can use flakes)
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 3 clove garlic
- pinch of turmeric
- pinch of cayenne pepper (add more if you like spicy)
- 1 tsp. mustard (dijon or yellow)
- For the Pasta:
- 16 oz. of elbow or shell pasta of choice. Keep it healthy and buy a quinoa pasta shell.
- For the Add Ons:
- 2 brocolli bunches, chopped
- 3 cups mushrooms, chopped
- 4 cups spinach
- ½ cup onions, chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the shell pasta in boiling water. I had some fresh sofrito and used ½ tablespoon to boil the pasta for a little added taste. Cook until desired consistency. Strain and set aside.
- Sauté add on ingredients in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Start first with the onions until cooked then add mushrooms, broccoli and spinach. Add garlic powder to taste.
- Blend all ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender until smooth and creamy.
- In baking pan, mix all ingredients for add ons and pasta together. Then add cheese sauce and mix together.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes until hardened on top. When finished, garnish with a bit of paprika (to taste)
- BONUS – For added crunch on top, add hemp seeds.
- Enjoy! (all in moderation)