I Can’t Believe It’s Not Mac & Cheese!!

Ahhh… the days of my youth.  My mouth curls into a dreamy smile when I think of my first love… Macaroni and Cheese.  Warm, fluffy, cheesy and easy for a kid to make.  It was also my first experience with “cooking” and my lunch of choice… especially with ketchup on it.  I know, I know… but even then I was all about making things interesting.

Of course…I miss Mac & Cheese…it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods.  What I don’t miss is being an adult version of the drippy nosed, stuffed up, phlegm filled and severely allergic kid/teen/young adult I used to be.  Wheat and dairy did a number on me back then.  So you could just imagine my enthusiasm when I found a recipe that created a fantastic healthy replica of this dish.  I put my own spin on the recipe and made it fast, easy and delicious!

I liked it so much, I thought I’d share it with you.   And although it’s not exactly like the KD stuff, it was really good… good enough that the men of my house tried it and really liked it, too!  They can be a tough audience, so this is a good sign.

Here’s how to make it:

Make The “Cheese” Sauce First

* I started with the cheese sauce.  If you feel up to doing a few things at once, the water for the pasta can be put on to boil while the sauce is being made and the elbow pasta (corn or rice) can be added so that it’s hot and ready to go immediately.  However, the cheese sauce can be made in advance of the pasta.

For the “Cheese Sauce”…

Into a food processor or a high powered blender (like the Vita-Mix) add:

1 cup Nutritional Yeast

1 can White Kidney Beans (or Romano Beans or Cannellini Beans)

2 tbsp Bragg’s Soy Sauce

1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

1 cup Purreed Orange Vegetable (cooked) — e.g. sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots.  I used a blended medley of cooked carrots, celery and other good veggies that became an orange purree.  This was made for my littlest guy to eat and I had extra in the fridge, so I used it here.  Thank you Nana! 🙂

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1/4 cup Flax Seed Oil (100% Dairy Free Option) or 1/4 cup melted Regular Butter

2 tbsp Maple Syrup

2 tbsp Tahini

1 tsp Sea Salt

This sauce took me less than 10 minutes to make.

Throw everything into your blending appliance and blend on low, working up to a faster speed.  Blend until smooth.  This makes a very thick sauce so it’s best done in a food processor if a Vita-Mix is not available.  A little bit of almond milk can be added to make the sauce thinner if desired.

DO NOT TASTE THE SAUCE BEFORE IT MEETS THE PASTA!  Ok… so here’s a little secret…. I tasted the sauce before it was added to the pasta and I was like “meh!”  But I was so far into the recipe, with sauce made and noodles boiling, that I just went ahead with it.  I can’t exactly tell you why it happened, but what happened next must have been some kitchen chemistry magic.  Read on to find out what happened.

Next…

Boil pasta… strain… and put the hot pasta back into the sauce pan.  Over low heat, stirr in the sauce until all the noodles are coated.

Now…

I transfered this to my bowl.  It looked the part!  It was warm, it looked silky and cheesy.  Could it really be?

Then I took a bite.  It was really good!  It was downright yummy.  The flavours seemed to come alive when the sauce met the pasta.  Isn’t that always the way?  However, this can be seasoned with a little extra nutritional yeast for a more cheesy flavour and/or a sprinkle of sea salt.  Fresh minced parsley can also be sprinkled over top.

This recipe is best eaten fresh and hot.  It offers a good amount of fiber and nutrients wth the beans, tahini and the blended orange vegetable components.  It’s free of dyes, sugar and artificial ingredients.  Yes, it takes some planning, and on this day, the stars alligned and I had everything I needed in my kitchen to give this recipe a shot.  I’m so glad I did.  I know this will become a family favorite!

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