Monday, March 14, 2011

Childhood & Vegan Mac n' Cheese

Growing up my mom rarely bought processed or packaged foods. I never had a Big Mac (never will) and my first taste of soda pop wasn't until the third grade, at a friends birthday party. My mom also wouldn't allow me to leave the dinner table until my veggies were scraped clean and every last drop of milk was consumed. I love her for this, although as a squirmy six-year-old it was torture. One night my Dad walked by my bedroom door and heard me sleep talking... "Mommy, no more milk. No more milk, mommy!". True story.

However, growing up wasn't always peas, carrots, and endless calcium consumption, because on special days (aka my mom or nanny were too busy) my brother and I would get to bust out the ketchup for some delicious and not-so-nutritious Kraft Dinner.

This, on the other hand, doesn't even compare to the cheap boxed crap with god knows what as "cheese" flavouring :/. Get hungry because you might be here for a while.
Creamy Vegan Mac n "Cheese"
Lightly adapted by Oh She Glows

This mac n' cheese is not your average KD box. It's dairy-free and includes three veggies, healthy fat, and organic gluten-free pasta. Even without ketchup, I was an instant fan. 
  • Approx 300 – 350 grams uncooked macaroni, shell pasta, or other (I used gluten-free shell pasta, which worked like a charm)
  • 1 small potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • ½ small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 cups raw cashews (soaked for an hour, if possible)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I used ½ soy and ½ water as almond milk is so expensive here)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (also known as savory yeast flakes, found at most health food stores)
  • 1 tsp regular mustard
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (adds a deeper yellow colour)
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread (I used 1 small whole wheat pita, as I had it on hand)
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter
  • Pepper to taste
  • Paprika, to garnish the crunchy topping
  • Fresh parsley, to garnish (optional, but it looks pretty and adds a nice flavour)
Note: There is no salt used in this recipe. Both the nutritional yeast and mustard compensate for any additional salt needed. You'll find I prefer to use minimal, if any, salt and oil in my cooking.

Preheat oven to 350F (200C) and set aside a small casserole dish. In a medium sized pot add your chopped veggies (potato, carrot, onion) and enough water so the veggies are covered. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, prepare your crunchy bread topping. Combine 1 slice of bread and 1 tbsp of non-dairy butter until crumbs forms form in a food processor. Place in a small bowl and move on to your cheese sauce (best part).

Begin your cheese sauce by adding the cashews to your food processor. Process until it’s broken down to crumbs then add the rest of your cheese sauce ingredients (almond milk, garlic, lemon, yeast, mustard, turmeric, and pepper).

Once your veggies are ready, drain and add to your cheese sauce mixture. Process until smooth and creamy. You may have to stop to scrap down the sides of your processor.

Cook your pasta according to packaged directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.

Now for the best part, add your pasta back into the pot and mix in your cheese sauce. I added another splash of non-fat soymilk to make it extra creamy. Once your sauce is fully incorporated scoop into your casserole dish, sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture, garnish with paprika and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 350F (200C). Top with chopped parsley, Tabasco, or ketchup, and ENJOY!
Warm, creamy,  and perfectly "cheesy" on the inside, with a crispy-crunchy exterior. What's not to love?

After dinner I made myself a pot of organic peppermint tea to ease digestion and calm my carb overload :P
Tomorrow at 7AM I'm hitting my Uni gym for a weight circuit workout, then I'm spending the day reading and essay planning before two hours of class, from 5-7PM. It's a busy week, but fortunately tasty meals aren't falling short ;) 

Gotta be kid, gotta be KD vegan mac n' cheese.

What are your favourite or not-so-favourite childhood meals? Anything you've recreated to be a healthier option?

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1 comment:

  1. This looks like it came out great! I also made this recipe for my family when I went home over the Christmas break, using brown rice shell pasta, and they all loved it.
    One of my childhood favourites was cookie dough ice cream. Dairy, wheat flour, sugar, and raw egg all in one tub, I used to be in pain for hours afterward and ultimately had to give it up for good. Now, So Delicious has a coconut milk cookie dough flavour, but I've made something similar at home with better ingredients and a better nutritional profile. While still not really "health food" it certainly beats the original, and it's not offensive to my digestive system :)