Think you can't make creamy, decadent mac and cheese without dairy? Think again! This Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe is made with cashews, nutritional yeast, butternut squash, cauliflower and turmeric for a simple and easy dairy free pasta recipe that's as full of flavor as it is nutrition. It's healthy, and yet this gluten free mac and cheese is creamy and delicious! Paleo-friendly too!
UPDATE: This post was originally published in October 2017.
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I know. Cheese is life. There are few things more delicious than a cheesy, creamy pasta…but what if I told you that you could still have your mac and cheese but without the tummy-turning dairy or the chemicals found in boxed varieties?!?!
And not only can you still have it, but you can LOVE it. Like seriously love it. Like not even miss the cheese, love it!
It's true. Thanks to a few savvy swaps, you can make this easy homemade mac and cheese recipe without any dairy and still wind up with a creamy treat!
Read on to see how I did it!
How to Make Vegan Mac and Cheese
Alright, it starts with flavor. You've got onions and garlic and red pepper flakes.
Then you need to add something creamy. Cashews: check!
Then you need to add bulk: Butternut Squash and Cauliflower to the rescue.
Then you need to add color: Turmeric has your back.
And finally, you need that umami flavor that traditional cheese provides: Let me introduce you to nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor and is a significant source of B vitamins.
Cook everything up in a big pot and then blend it all together with some vegetable broth and you'll be amazed and how similar in texture and flavor this creamy sauce tastes, looks and feels like the real thing.
I highly recommend a Vitamix for blending this mixture (buy it direct here or on Amazon here)–it will make it so smooth and creamy, no chunks, easy clean up, and the blender is so versatile–I also use it for smoothies, soups, sauces, homemade nut butters and nut milks, and frozen cocktails 😉
I got theVitamix A3500 last year and am so in love!
I will say this though–this vegan mac and cheese is not identical to traditional mac and cheese.
And if you're not a vegan, throwing a bit of actual cheese into the mix wouldn't be the worst thing.
But if you are vegan, or if you don't tolerate cheese well, you don't need to. This is a delicious, creamy pasta and it tastes amazing all on its own.
And the fact that this Vegan Mac and Cheese isn't identical to the real thing is actually a good thing. Here's why: full of fiber, protein and healthy fats, this vegan mac and cheese recipe is as delicious as it is nutritious. It's such an easy way to sneak more veggies onto your plate!
The B Vitamins here are out of control–over 130% of your recommended daily value–plus it's chockfull of Vitamin C, Magnesium and Vitamin K. Goodbye bloated tummy ache from dairy-laden mac and cheese. Hello energy boost, improved immunity, balanced hormones, better moods and sleep.
If you usually go for the boxed mac and cheese, you're really doing some amazing things for your health by making this recipe instead.
Full of excess sodium and saturated fat, and loaded with highly processed, toxic chemicals like DATEM, artificial colors, MSG and inflammatory oils, boxed mac and cheese might just be one of the most unhealthy meals on the market.
Not to mention this vegan mac and cheese recipe is also gluten-free.
Instead of white pasta noodles laden with gluten and refined flour, I opt for gluten-free pasta made from nutritious whole grains and vegetables, like quinoa, corn, chickpeas or lentils.
Some of my favorite brands include Jovial, Ancient Harvest, Banza, Now Foods and Tolerant. Taste-wise, I would never be able to tell the difference between regular pasta and these gluten-free varieties, but they are SO MUCH BETTER FOR YOU!
Even better? This vegan mac and cheese recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make. Other than your pasta pot, you only need one dish here to bring this recipe together.
And dish duty is a breeze afterward! Other than your pasta pot, you only need one dish here to bring this recipe together.
Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 cup organic cauliflower florets
- 1 cup butternut squash cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon organic red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon organic turmeric
- 1 cup organic raw cashews
- 2.5 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 pounds gluten-free macaroni shells
- In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onion, cauliflower, and squash with olive oil for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and turmeric, tossing to combine. Add cashews and broth. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until everything is nice and soft.
- Meanwhile, make pasta according to package directions.
- Add the mixture to a high-speed blender (I recommend Vitamix) and add nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour sauce mixture over pasta, tossing until fully coated. Serve and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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