{eating & reading} Vegan Mac & Cheese


Ready for some real talk? Vegan mac & cheese isn’t the same as regular mac & cheese.

I mean, of course not, right? Ugh, and one of my least favorite things is when people change a recipe to make it healthier or to make it fit a certain set of dietary restrictions and then they’re all, “But you can’t even taste the difference!” Because guess what? If you give me a bowl of regular mac & cheese and a bowl of vegan mac & cheese, I promise you that I can, in fact, taste the difference.

So, let’s just call a spade a spade here and acknowledge that while this recipe for vegan mac & cheese is totally delicious, it’s not going to taste the exact same as the kind of mac & cheese that uses eleventy pounds of butter and, you know, actual fucking cheese.

Okay? Okay.

With that said, here’s what I can tell you about this recipe: it serves the same purpose as regular mac & cheese. What does that mean? Well, it means that it’s warm and creamy and yummy and comforting. It still has the “curl up on the couch and eat a lot of carbs” feel to it, just without the subsequent “oh my god ew I want to die because I’m so full” feeling afterward. And I’m pretty sure we can all agree that no one likes that feeling.

So, what I’m really saying here is that this recipe is delicious, healthy, packed with protein and complex carbs, adored by both my vegan and non-vegan friends, and guaranteed not to make you feel even the tiniest bit sick after eating it. And isn’t comfort food that much more comforting when it doesn’t make you clutch your stomach in pain while scrambling to unbutton your pants?

Yeah, exactly.


Creamy {Vegan} Mac & Cheese

serves 3 as a main dish or 4 as a side // photo credit: andrea isasi

2 tbsp Earth Balance
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp Braggs Aminos*
1 1/3 c unflavored soy milk
2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (spelt flour works well, too)
1/3 c nutritional yeast flakes*
1/3 c sliced carrots
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste
8oz macaroni, cooked according to package directions and then drained (I use quinoa pasta instead of regular pasta, since it’s gluten-free and adds more protein)

While you’re cooking your macaroni, melt the Earth Balance in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Throw the garlic in and cook for about 1 minute, and then whisk in the tahini, mustard, and Braggs. In a small bowl, whisk the soy milk and flour together, and then slowly add this mixture to your hot saucepan, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Whisk in the nutritional yeast, and then pour the hot sauce into a food processor or high-powered blender. Add the carrots and bell pepper and puree until smooth. Stir in the dry mustard powder. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste, and then immediately pour the finished sauce over your cooked noodles and serve.

PS – Guess what? You can pour the finished macaroni & sauce into a baking dish, top with breadcrumbs, and broil for 3-5 minutes to turn this into a baked version. Super delicious!
* PPS – Don’t get freaked out by the weird ingredients like Braggs and nutritional yeast. Just head to Whole Foods and you’ll find everything you need – Braggs will be next to the soy sauce and nutritional yeast will probably be in the bulk bins.
PPPS – Original recipe found here

So, now that you’re curled up with a bowl of warm mac & cheese, let’s settle in for the “reading” portion of this month’s eating & reading series, shall we? Below, you’ll find the three articles I most enjoyed in February, and in the comments I’d love it if you shared one or two of your recent favorite links as well.

Nicole’s 3 Favorite Articles This Month

No, You Are Not “Running Late”, You’re Rude and Selfish, by @greg_savage
“It is not that we lead ‘busy lives’. That’s a given, we all do, and it’s a cop out to use that as an excuse. It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs.”

How To Say “No” To Everything Ever (a universal script), by @alex_franzen
“We all know that we need to say ‘no,’ about 1,000 times more than we say ‘yes.’ But we don’t. And we pay the price, with over-cluttered calendars, over-saturated psyches, and over-clenched shoulders that never quite sink away from our earlobes. There are plenty of things that stop us from saying ‘no.’ Not having the right language to do it … shouldn’t be one of them.”

97-Year Old Woman Breaks Her Age Group’s 100 Meter Sprint Record
Want a quick jolt of feel-good inspiration? This is it.

Your turn! Have a favorite link? I’d love for you to share it in the comments so I can check it out.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

suki February 27, 2013 at 9:05 am

re: being late article – THANK YOU for this. Ugh. I hate when people are late or flake, and I also am trying better to run on time. :)


Jennifer February 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thank you for the recipe and links Nicole! I really like this eating & reading theme :-)

There are two uplifting stories I enjoyed this week: “Cancer, Innovation and A Boy Named Jack” (http://t.co/dF23KqmMry) and this post on gratitude by Danielle LaPorte (http://www.daniellelaporte.com/inspiration-spirituality-articles/the-how-tos-of-small-specific-genuine-and-publicly-declared-gratitude/)


Jena February 27, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I’m TOTALLY going to try this recipe. I love Mac and Cheese and being that it’s the healthier kind, I know I will totally freaking dig this. And I have some articles I loved but I can’t put my finger on where I saw them, most come off your blog to be quite honest :)


Jo-Anne February 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I hate it when people swear black and blue that you will not taste the difference they don’t know if you will be able to or not some people may not taste the difference others will……………


Lauren Michelle February 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm

When you said, “It still has the ‘curl up on the couch and eat a lot of carbs’ feel to it, just without the subsequent ‘oh my god ew I want to die because I’m so full’ feeling afterward,” I thought, “You mean like the one I’m about to have as I scarf down this double egg sandwich I just made? I’ll probably end up eating half of it in the morning for breakfast, though. I make a lot of things for dinner that I can’t finish in one sitting. A simple egg sandwich being one of them. Even though I’m not vegan, I like the idea of eating something creamy and delicious and comforting without the following feelings of disgust and self-hatred for having done that to myself.


Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} February 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I will have to try this mac and cheese recipe. So far I have not found a vegan version that I really like and sometimes I just really miss “real” mac and cheese, you know?


Tami - Teacher Goes Back To School February 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

truth on the vegan mac! it is delicious, but it is not the same.

thank you for sharing the greg savage link. i wholeheartedly agree! in teaching my daughter the nursery rhyme one two, buckle my shoe i changed seven/eight from lay them straight to “don’t be late!” it is never too early to teach punctuality!


Kelly L February 28, 2013 at 9:28 am

Mac and cheese that won’t make me feel like dying after? YES and also PLEASE.


Nicole February 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm

This was good, but mine turned out much more colorful with the carrots and peppers than your photos.


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