25. Mac & Cheese
I have been making this vegan mac and cheese for years and it is by far my favourite. It is not only healthy but simple and filling. In this blog post, I highlight the basic recipe and why the ingredients are important to me and how to customize the recipe to better align with your lifestyle and diet. Typically, I never measure the ingredients for this sauce and make it according to my cravings (thick and creamy or light and thin) and I recommend this for everyone.
- Non-dairy milk (plain)
- Coconut oil
- Non-dairy cheese shreds
- Nutritional yeast
- Salt & pepper
- Elbow macaroni noodles
The Directions: Pre-cook 1 cup of pasta noodles & set aside. Heat 2 cups of the non-dairy milk and 1/4 cup of coconut oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of non-dairy cheese and stir until melted. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, a pinch of salt/pepper & mix for 5 minutes. Add your pre-cooked pasta noodles to this sauce and mix until even consistency. If your noodles have cooled, leave this mix on the medium heat for a couple extra minutes while stirring.
The Non-Dairy Milk.
Almond, soy, oat, coconut, rice, hemp, there are so many non-dairy milks to choose from which will work great with this recipe. For added nutrients, it is a great option to pick the fortified non-dairy milks. The unsweetened versions of your favourite non-dairy milk is ideal for mac & cheese so as to not interfere with the flavour. Another great option is to make your own non-dairy milk.
The Coconut Oil.
Although coconut oil has always been my go-to, there are many oils that will work with this recipe. Some options are: regular cooking oil, vegan margarine, or tahini with a nut butter (if you like nutty flavours, extra protein, and creaminess).
The Non-Dairy Cheese Shreds.
I typically always use the Daiya brand of cheddar cheese shreds (or shred the block myself) but most brands that melt will work. Some other brands that I have seen are: Presidents Choice, Chao, Follow Your Heart, and Earths Island. I love adding this cheese because it gives the mac & cheese a very strong cheese flavour and texture.
Honestly, I started adding turmeric to my sauce just so the colour was more authentic and distinctive to my childhood memories of mac & cheese (specifically cheddar kraft dinner) but there are so many other benefits to adding this than just the colour. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent and an antioxidant. It can be very important for preventing and curing many diseases, improving brain function, prevent or treating cancer, arthritis treatment, decreasing depression, and aid in longevity. You can read more about this by clicking here. In order to absorb more from this ingredient it is best to pair it with something like black pepper to better increase the absorption. It is also fat-soluble, making it a great pair with the oil and fatty compounds in this recipe.
The Nutritional Yeast.
Adding this ingredient not only gives this recipe an additional cheesy taste and thicker texture, but it is also valued for its extra protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many studies suggest that nutritional yeast helps protect against oxidative damage, lower cholesterol, and boost immunity. For many vegans, it can be difficult to get enough B12. So if your non-dairy milk does not contain your B12 vitamin this surely will.
The Salt & Pepper.
As mentioned, black pepper is beneficial to pair with the turmeric ingredient in order for the turmeric to be absorbed and for the consumer to gain the most benefit from this meal. I enjoy using himalayan salt for my cooking while my boyfriend prefers using kosher salt. Himalayan salt is mineral-rich and one of the purest, least refined sea salts. Although ground salt (table salt) may seem like a less desirable option, it can also contain benefits such as its iodine content. Iodine is a mineral necessary for correct thyroid function, thyroid cancer-prevention and proper mental development and maintenance.
There are actually a lot of variety of elbow noodles besides your typical wheat based noodles. Some that I have seen (that are also gluten-free) are chick pea, lentil, and cauliflower based noodles. Click here to see an example from Barilla. If you do opt. for one of these make sure you follow the box directions because they are a bit more vulnerable to going soft/mushy if left cooking for too long.