Mac and Cheese, hold the cheese

I am super excited about this post, but before I dive I should state a few things:

  1. I will sit down and easily devour heavy cream mac and cheese with sausage, my mom’s buffalo mac, and vegetable loaded mac. I do not discriminate when it comes to pasta and cheese.
  2. I am not 100% vegetarian or vegan, but I do try to eat vegetarian 5-6 days a week.
  3. When I am going meatless during the week, I will do tofu here and there, but I am not a huge fan of soy heavy diets. I think some of the imitation cheeses and meats have too many preservatives and chemicals in them. I typically stick to vegetables.
  4. I love trying to take classic dishes and make them healthier, without sacrificing deliciousness!

So, back to the food. On my search for a healthier mac and cheese recipe, I stumbled across this website, Oh She Glows. She has a fabulous butternut squash mac and cheese recipe on her blog that I have had bookmarked for over a month. I finally got up the courage to give it a try. I was excited and nervous about making my own “cheese” sauce and using nutritional yeast in a recipe for the first time. This was uncharted territory for me, but I felt good about this recipe because I knew what was going into it. The cheese sauce is simple: cashews, non-dairy milk, spices, mustard, lemon, butternut squash and nutritional yeast.  I have most of these ingredients in my pantry/fridge all the time. I picked up some plain rice milk and nutritional yeast (check out the awesome health info here) at my local grocery store, and I was ready to go!

Here is the recipe from Oh She Glows, and as usual, here are some of the notes I have:

  • I made a half recipe but still used 3 cloves of garlic. I always double garlic in recipes because I love it.
  • For the milk I used plain rice milk. I have an almond coconut blend, but I think it has a hint of sweet that would be weird in this dish. To me, the plain rice milk tastes the closest to regular milk. I wanted to make a soy free dish, which is why I didn’t use plain soy.
  • I don’t have a premixed Italian seasoning so I used dried basil, parsley and oregano. I used over a ½ tsp. I really think spices can be done to taste. I say that all the time, but every person likes their food a certain way. I love spice, so I usually use more than a recipe calls for.
  • I added a ¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes. You know I love a little kick.
  • I went with classic elbow macaroni, and I did add peas as suggested.
  • If you read my pink lemonade bar post, you know I don’t have a food processor. I made the sauce in my blender, and it turned out great.
  • I couldn’t resist the roasted butternut squash out of the oven. Mine barely made it to the sauce!
  • I baked the mac and cheese with the breadcrumb and paprika topping. Panko breadcrumbs would be really good on top too.

I can’t wait to make this again in the future and mix it up a bit. I’m already brainstorming different vegetables and spices that could be added. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

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