Food La La: Making vegan mac and cheese

Apr. 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

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BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser

It’s been about a month since I officially switched to an all-vegan diet. I thought it would be much more difficult, but I haven’t had any cravings for meat or seafood. I feel much happier, lighter and brighter!

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that my mind is clear and I have more energy. If I had known it was going to be like this, I would’ve made the switch sooner.

One of my favorite things to eat when I first started cutting meat out of my diet was vegan macaroni and cheese. It’s super creamy, satisfying and comforting. I crave it often, so I am always experimenting with different recipes. I followed this recipe to start, but made a bunch of adjustments. I replaced the vegan butter with coconut milk and added nutritional yeast to give the sauce a nutty cheese-like flavor as well as turmeric for flavor and color. I also added roasted bell peppers to make the dish more complete and colorful.

Next time I make this I will add broccoli and mushrooms, too.

Once the sauce and pasta is done, all you had to do is mix it up and it’s ready to eat! This time however, I decided to bake it which made a huge difference in flavor and texture! Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, it’s hard to stop eating! You can try it both ways and see which version you like better.

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VEGAN MACARONI AND CHEESE

Ingredients (Serves 4-6):

» 10 ounces pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
» 1 cup yellow potato, peeled and chopped
» 1/4 cup carrot, peeled and chopped
» 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
» 1/4 cup coconut milk
» 1/2 cup raw cashews
» Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic powder to taste
» 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
» 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
» 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
» 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
» Bread crumbs to taste
» Vegan cheese alternative (optional)
» Vegetables of choice (I used bell peppers)

Instructions:

1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente (about 6-8 minutes). In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add potatoes, carrots, onion, and water (enough to cover vegetables) and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

3. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic powder, coconut milk, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, paprika, nutritional yeast, turmeric and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

(Optional: Cook or roast vegetables of your choice to add to dish.)

4. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a casserole dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, sprinkle with vegan alternative cheese (optional) and dust with paprika.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
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Lindsey Muraoka blogs about all things vegetarian for the Pulse. Follow her on Twitter or email her at foodlalablog@gmail.com.

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