Some date night mac n cheese for you and your lovah. Or just you because I fully support selifsh acts. Especially when it includes vegan mac n cheese with crispy veggie breadcrumbs.
I know what you’re thinking, can’t we just leave macaroni and cheese alone? Does it really need to have a wholesome spin thrown onto it with green crunchy crumbles? I get it. Take it from a girl who grew up on kraft macaroni. In fact, kraft was one of the first things I started cooking for myself. That and instant mashed potatoes.
It was the ultimate comfort food when coming home from elementary school. And it literally was a form of comfort for me as there were many days I was whipping up dinner for myself. Without realizing it I was becoming an independent human from the young age of eight years old, and the kitchen was becoming a safe haven of creativity.
In a way I look back on those memories fondly. I learned how to be content with myself. Take care of myself. Slowly become my own woman.
A bit dramatic as always but you get the point. The difference between now and then is we have the knowledge and tools to create wholesome dinners that aren’t full of weird additives our bodies don’t enjoy. We have a desire for ingredients that nourish the soul and build comforitng meals like this.
Another bonus? It brings people together.
Yes while you can enjoy this lovely homemade macaroni and cheese to yourself with a glass of kombucha and The Bachelor on in the background, it’s so much sweeter enjoyed with someone else. Spread the love you know?
You might think I’m crazy for throwing the whole “vegetable breadcrumb” addition your way but who would I be if I didn’t bring creative nutrititon to the table? Before questioning this dish as a “why would you do that??” maybe rethink your brain and ask why not…Boom. This is the year of exploration my friends.
I provided some nutritious details below as always to show how I turned a childhood classic into a nourishing meal your body and soul are going to ADORE. It’s hearty, filling and packs in healthy carbs, fiber, vegetables, protein and anti-inflammatory goodness. Yums.
Vegan Mac n Cheese Nutritious Details
Chickpea Pasta Base: For a true macaroni feel I definitely recommend using a pasta shell noodle. In terms of types of pasta, I love using a chickpea based pasta for extra fiber and naturally high protein. You can also try a quinoa pasta or sprouted grain based pasta as well for a quality nutrient dense pasta base. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and most markets sell these bean or quinoa based shells.
“Cheese” Sauce: The vegan base cheese sauce does not require you to soak cashews or blend a ton of random ingredients. YAY. It’s made from a base of dairy free cream cheese, creamy cashew milk and vegan butter. For the cream cheese I adore Kite Hill brand for taste and quality. Feel free to sub your favorite cream cheese and grass fed butter if you can tolerate dairy.
Nutritional Yeast: The sauce involves a few tablespoons of nutritonal yeast flakes to lend an earthy cheesy flavor. I don’t recommend subbing this for anything else and it’s a great ingredient to have on hand to add flavor to a variety of dishes! Nutritional yeast is full of amino acids and B vitamins packing in around 10 grams of protein in just a few tablespoons. It’s super nutrient dense and a great plant based pantry staple of mine. You can find it at most markets, amazon, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Crispy Brussel Sprout Breadcrumbs: Veggie breadcrumbs! It’s totally a thing. Make sure you buy pre-shredded brussel sprouts and toss them with olive oil before roasting in the oven. Broiling at the end is also very important to get that extra crisp. You will toss the brussels in a cracker bread crumb as well which really adds to the flavor and texture. All you do is blend up your favorite crackers in a blender then toss! I used Simple Mills brand for quality and they happen to be grain free making this dish allergy-friendly.
Optional Additions: I personally love adding shredding chicken to this dish or crispy cooked chicken sausage or pairing this macaroni as a side dish to a crispy roasted chicken. YUM. I bet sauteed tempeh would be great in this as well or paired as a side dish with a glazed steak.
- Mac n Cheese
- 1 lb. macaroni chickpea pasta shells (or whole grain, gluten free, etc.)
- ½ cup dairy free cream cheese* (or regular)
- 1 cup creamy cashew milk or dairy free creamer
- 1 Tbsp. vegan butter (or regular grassfed butter)
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced and deseeded
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Sea sat + pepper to taste + cajun seasoning
- Optional: 1-2 Tbsp. favorite hot sauce (highly recommend)
- Brussel Sprout Bread Crumbs
- 8 oz. shredded brussel sprouts (buy pre shredded)
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or butter, melted
- Handful of blended gluten free crackers (I used Simple Mills)
- Cook the macaroni shells according to directions and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees farnehiet and line a cookie sheet with a slipmat or grease with cooking spray. Spread the brussel sprout shreds over pan and toss with olive oil, blended crackers and a dash of sea salt. Roast for 10 minutes then turn oven to broil and continue to roast for 5 minutes. Brussels will be crisp!
- While the sprouts are roasting, make your sauce. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat and allow the butter to melt. Add in the onion and garlic to sautee until brown and fragrant. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the cashew milk, cream cheese and nutritional yeast until it melts together and a thick sauce forms. Stir in the japapeno, dijon, vinegar, spices and hot sauce. Cover and allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes as it thickens. Then mix in the macaroni pasta shells and adjust seasonings or hot sauce amounts to your preference. Top with crispy brussel sprout shreds and parmesan cheese if you wish.
The recipe is dairy-free friendly but ingredients can be adjusted if you do not have an intolerance/allergy or are not vegan.