Easy Vegan Mac & Cheese

Easy Vegan Mac & Cheese

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While I don’t think we should need an excuse to make lots of warming comfort food, I will gladly use the dropping temperatures as motivation to make as much as I want. This vegan mac & cheese really hit the spot, and this recipe made enough sauce that I can use the leftovers on nachos or on more pasta later in the week.

This plant-based sauce is my favorite because it is oil-free, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free and it has an amazing smooth texture. If you’re looking for a substitute to the boxed stuff, definitely be aware that the taste of this sauce doesn’t remind me of a cheese sauce from a box or the kind made with real cheese (or vegan faux cheese). The texture and appearance is very similar, but the taste isn’t the same since this is made from whole plant foods.

I’ll be honest: If your palette isn’t adjusted to simple and pure plant-based eating, you might not love this, so I’ve suggested some things to add below to enhance the flavor.

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Either way, if you’re curious to try something different with ingredients that are easy to find, this is definitely one to try. You basically just need to boil up some potatoes and carrots then add those to a blender with some spices and blend it until very smooth. That’s it! I love to serve mine with some stewed tomatoes on top to kick up the flavor, or even a little squirt of ketchup. It’s also fun to try adding difference spices, peppers or sriracha as well.

This recipe is adapted from Chef Mark Anthony to be oil-free, vegan and just as delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of your pasta of choice (I used chickpea pasta from Banza)
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (or 2 large)
  • 3 regular sized carrots
  • 1 cup water reserved from boiling the potatoes and carrots
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (add more if you desire)
  • 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon or brown mustard
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric

Method:

  1. Prepare your pasta as directed on the box and set aside (you can do this at any point. I like to make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge and add to fresh pasta).
  2. Scrub potatoes and carrots (peel if desired). Chop potatoes and carrots into cubes about 1 inch thick.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots and boil for about 10-15 minutes, until fork tender.
  4. While the potatoes and carrots are boiling, add the rest of the ingredients (except the pasta) to a bowl.
  5. Once the potatoes and carrots are soft, reserve about 1 cup of water from the pot.
  6. Drain the rest of the pot and add the potatoes and carrots to a high-speed blender, or scoop them out of the pot and transfer them to the blender, taking care not to add too much extra water to the blender.
  7. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved water to the blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more water as necessary to reach your desired consistency. I ended up adding about 3/4 cup of water.
  8. Add in remaining sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. I blended for about 3-4 minutes until it was absolutely silky and smooth. (If you don’t have a high-quality blender you might not be able to get it super silky.)
  9. Add the sauce and mix it with your pasta until you’ve got the right amount (you will have leftover sauce!). Feel free to add any toppings you might like (crushed red pepper, stewed tomatoes, ketchup, etc.) and store the remaining sauce in the fridge for up to a week.
  10. Enjoy!
Warm Fonio Salad & Sweet Potato Bowl with Curried Pecan Sauce

Warm Fonio Salad & Sweet Potato Bowl with Curried Pecan Sauce

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When the kind people at Yolélé Foods reached out to me about trying fonio several months ago, I was confused at first (“What the heck is fonio?”) but also super intrigued. Simply put, fonio is an easily digestible and gluten-free African supergrain that is packed with amino acids, protein, fiber and iron. This company is also doing a lot to help communities in rural West Africa, which I encourage you to read all about on their website.

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way. I am providing a genuine review of a product that I want to share with you.

I posted a dish a while back on my Instagram feed using fonio, but since I still had some leftover, I wanted to do a bit more. I had a dish like this in my mind, and the fonio was the perfect base. You could substitute couscous or quinoa here if you can’t find fonio, but I’d definitely give fonio a try if you’re curious!

I’m a big fan of quinoa, but after trying out fonio, I will definitely consider keeping it in rotation. It has a very fine texture and almost melts in your mouth (especially when combined with a sauce), which is very enjoyable. My favorite part is how quickly it cooks up. In just under five minutes, I was surprised by how much those little grains that looked like sea salt before cooking ended up getting so fluffy.

The recipe below will serve 3-4. My husband and I had this for dinner, and we each took some for lunch the next day too. Score.

Ingredients:
Sweet Potato Rounds:
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil or coconut oil (optional, sub veggie broth for oil free)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Warm Fonio & Legume Salad:
  • 1 cup cooked fonio*
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable broth OR 1 tbsp avocado or other oil for sauteing onions
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
  • 1/4 cup cooked green peas**
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Handful of diced green onions
  • Pinch of salt
Curried Pecan Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup of raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp of a good quality curry powder
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup or coconut nectar
  • 1 cup very hot, just boiled water
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F .
  2. Wash sweet potatoes and slice into coins that are about 1/2 inch thick. Keep the skins on the potatoes.
  3. Spread sweet potato rounds over nonstick baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Feel free to lightly spray or coat with avocado or coconut oil if you prefer your sweet potatoes to be a bit more caramelized. However, oil is not needed if you are trying to cut out oil.
  4. Pop sweet potatoes into the oven. They will need to bake for about 35-40 minutes total, turning once halfway.
  5. While sweet potatoes are baking,  prepare the fonio per directions. To cook, you simply add the fonio to boiling water, cover, and remove from heat. It will be ready to fluff with a fork after 5 minutes, so be sure to set a timer to check it right away. TIP: Cooking fonio in a wider saucepan is recommended since the extra space will allow it to fluff up more.
  6. Heat a pan over medium heat, add vegetable broth (or oil if you prefer) and toss in minced garlic and chopped onions. Saute for a few minutes until onions are soft, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat once the onions start to brown.
  7. Combine the fonio, grilled onions, chickpeas, green peas, chopped cilantro, scallions and salt in a bowl and combine well.
  8. By this point, 20 minutes have likely passed, so you’ll want to turn your sweet potatoes if you haven’t already.
  9. Create the pecan sauce by bringing a couple cups of water to a boil. Add minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup of raw pecans, 1 tbsp of curry powder, juice from half a lemon, 1 tbsp of maple syrup and pinch of salt to a high-speed blender or high-quality food processor. Once water boils, allow it to stop boiling then add 1 cup very hot water to a high-speed blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend all ingredients until very creamy. Scrape sides as you go and keep going until it’s super creamy, usually 3-4 minutes.
  10. Transfer fonio salad to a bowl, add on sweet potato rounds and pecan sauce, and ENJOY!
*Can substitute quinoa or couscous for fonio if you still want to try this recipe without fonio. Quinoa will need a tad more time to cook, maybe 12-15 minutes, and I recommend cooking your quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water to get some extra flavor in there.
**Can substitute shelled edamame for green peas. If using frozen green peas, covering them with boiling water and allowing them to sit for a few minutes is an easy way to prepare them.
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Creamy Hummus Tomato Pasta

Creamy Hummus Tomato Pasta

Gluten Free and Vegan Creamy Pasta

The best things in life are simple if you ask me. If you have never tried hummus on your pasta, here is a simple recipe (or really, more like an idea) to get you started. I have experimented using homemade hummus and various brands of hummus, but by far my favorite to use is Hope Foods Original Hummus. It just has a slight tang to it and is such a nice texture for combining with tomato sauce.

If you give it a try, do let me know. I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t loved this simple pasta idea. It has definitely become my go-to when I’m craving a simple creamy pasta dish but am short on time.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz box of pasta
  • 1/2 cup Hope Foods Original Hummus
  • 2 cups pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil or parsley (optional)
  • freshly-ground black pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat pasta sauce on stove and stir in hummus.
  3. Combine pasta and sauce together, adding in tomatoes, basil or parsley if you’d like.
  4. Enjoy!

 

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