Who doesn’t love warm, hearty casserole dishes during the winter months?! Mac ‘n cheese isn’t a famous comfort food for nothing!

However, the classic version is nothing short of a digestive atrocity, between the milk, cheese, and wheat. That “heaviness” you feel after eating it is really just your digestive system maxing out on a load of difficult to digest ingredients. Head to my blog posts regarding commercial dairy and wheat to learn how regular consumption of these foods can move your health pendulum in the wrong direction. Put them together as main ingredients and you’ve got trouble.

Fret not, limiting these dietary staples doesn’t mean we have to forego comfort foods!

This week, we’re embarking on a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Makeover Mission!

If you like any of the ubiquitous cheese substitutes, this recipe makeover is quick and painless. Simply replace regular pasta with a gluten free pasta of choice, replace the milk with almond or coconut milk, and replace the cheese with your favorite cheese substitute and you’re all set. (Good luck getting your family to ask for seconds!)

Personally, I have purchased many packaged cheese substitutes and none tickle my tastebuds (or those of my husband, the world’s biggest cheese-aholic). On to Plan B…make my own “cheese” sauce from scratch (note, you’ll need a food processor or high speed blender to make it).

A quick search of my go-to vegan food blog, Oh She Glows, yielded this gem of a recipe, which I slightly modified to ensure you get the cleanest, most tummy-friendly version:

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze: Two Ways

Butternut Squash idea from Lou. Cheese sauce adapted from my Mac ‘n Cheeze II.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (yields: 3.5 cups raw)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (preferably almond or coconut), or more to thin out
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 6-7 tbsp Nutritional yeast(provides the cheesy consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp or a bit more of dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Turmeric powder, optional (gives the orangey colour)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Paprika + more to season
  • Your gluten-free pasta of choice (~450 grams/4.5 cups dry penne, or elbow macaroni)
  • Crumbly topping (optional):
  • 2 slices gluten free bread, finely chopped manually or via food processor
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet.  In a bowl, season chopped squash with some extra virgin olive oil (~1 tbsp) and kosher salt (couple pinches) and stir. Add to baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking.
  2. Make the topping: Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in a pan. Add crumbs and ¼ cup nutritional yeast and stir until everything is moist. Set aside.
  3. Assemble your cheeze sauce ingredients (cashews, non-dairy milk, garlic, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, mustard, seasonings) and add just the cashews to food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms similar to corn meal. Now add in the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth. Leave the sauce in the processor as you will be adding the squash.
  4. Cook your pasta according to package directions. When squash is finished roasting, add it to the food processor and blend it with the cheese sauce until smooth. Adjust to taste. The sauce will thicken up with time. If at any point the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a bit of milk to thin it out.
  5. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Now add the pasta back into the same pot and add your desired amount of cheeze sauce on top. Stir well. Add in any desired mix-ins like peas or broccoli. You can either heat this up in the pot, or pour it into a casserole dish (I used a 4 cup dish), sprinkle on breadcrumbs + paprika, and bake it at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. The casserole will serve about 4 people if you use 450 grams dry macaroni or penne. Store any leftover sauce in the fridge and use within a few days.

Personally, I like to skip the baking; I find it makes the pasta mushy, and instead toss the crumb topping on as I serve it out of the pot.

If you’d like to go straight to Angela’s recipe on Oh She Glows, click here.

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