We don’t know about you, but winter is the time of year when we have the hardest time sticking to our clean eating plan. After waking up early to exercise, going to work, and finally trudging home through the freezing cold, all you want is some hot and deliciously heavy carb-loaded comfort foods. Our favourite from the dark times before our lifestyle change was always a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. But if there is one thing we have learned since the beginning of our love affair with clean eating, it is that there is always, ALWAYS a healthier alternative.
For this reason, our fourth recipe for vegan month is Vegan Mac & Cheese Bake! With a little careful reading of ingredients lists, it is not terribly hard to find a dry pasta at your local grocery store that is vegan friendly. We were quite pleased with how this recipe turned out as it is the most complex of all of the vegan recipes we have attempted! This recipe is hearty but also heart-healthy; not only are there veggies mixed into the casserole, but there are some blended right into the “cheese” sauce (which can help get a few extra veggies into those stubborn kids!). And since the recipe does contain some pasta, it will satisfy your craving for carbs while still providing you with a healthy and vegan friendly meal. The recipe for the “cheese” sauce is actually for a double batch, so save half and keep an eye out for our bonus casserole recipe coming this Saturday!!
2 cups of fresh packed kale, washed and torn with stems removed
5 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced
¼ of one large Spanish onion, diced
2 broccoli crowns, chopped into small crowns
3 Tbsp olive oil
Dash of lemon juice
1 tsp chili flakes
6 turns freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup cornflake crumbs (optional)
2 cups (dry measure) of small vegan pasta shells, cooked (gluten free if necessary)
2 cup diced roasted butternut squash
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 cloves of garlic
¾ cup almond milk
¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp dry mustard powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
8 turns freshly ground black pepper
8 turns freshly ground sea salt
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp garlic powder
Combine kale, mushrooms, onion, broccoli, garlic, and olive oil into a wok or large frying pan. Sauté until vegetables are tender, but so that the broccoli is still a little firm. Add lemon juice, chili flakes, and pepper about halfway through cooking.
For the sauce, add all ingredients (except water) to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Then add water in small quantities until sauce reaches desired consistency (we used approximately one cup).
In an 8” x 8” glass casserole dish, combine sautéed vegetables, cooked pasta and half of the total batch of sauce (don’t forget to save the rest for our bonus casserole recipe coming soon!). Sprinkle with cornflake crumbs. Bake in preheated oven at 375° for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving!