mac-cheese-1

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.

mac&cheese-4

Creamy {Vegan} Mac & Cheese

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

Ingredients
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.