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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Recipe: The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese (Healthy & Gluten Free!)

The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe - healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, low fat, easy vegan recipes, baked macaroni and cheese

Generally when people find out I'm a food blogger, one of the first things they ask Jesse is; what is it like being married to a food blogger?

It's a question he is asked all the time - and it's usually followed by and how are you not 300 pounds?! (because somehow the healthy food blogger part gets left out whenever someone else introduces me).

I've heard a dozen answers from Jesse, but one always makes me giggle.... 
You never know what ingredient she's going to hide or what combination she's going to come up with. 

The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe - healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, low fat, easy vegan recipes, baked macaroni and cheese

Yup.  I married a guy who is what I like to call a traditional eater. He doesn't like fusion cuisine and he certainly doesn't think that vegetables should ever appear in baked goods (unless it's pumpkin pie...).

And I also married a guy who is a serious carnivore and dairy lover so vegan food is definitely off the menu at dinner time.

Well, it kind of is.... unless he doesn't know....

The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe - healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, low fat, easy vegan recipes, baked macaroni and cheese

This Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe was one of those sneaky recipes. I'd told Jesse we were having baked mac and cheese for dinner and that's all I said. 

Little did he know whilst he was at work that day, I was blending up a mac and cheese sauce that didn't involve any cheese at all.... in fact, it didn't even involve any dairy (and yes, I did it whilst he was at work because if he sees me with any ingredient that he knows isn't usually found in something he'll work it out). 

And yet, as he took the first bite he said what I wasn't really expecting....
"THIS is how mac and cheese is supposed to be!" 

And then he fist bumped me.... because we do that. 

And I knew I couldn't tell him yet... so I tried to hide the cheshire cat-like grin that spread across my face and keep a straight face so he didn't know something was up. 

The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe - healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, low fat, easy vegan recipes, baked macaroni and cheese

He finished the mac and cheese, bragging to my Mum (who knew it was vegan) about how awesome it was and after he put his plate in the dishwasher I said... "was there anything different about it?" 

"Well, it was the best you've ever made?"

No suspicion.... so I told him. And what was his response? "No way? Well, I kind of feel cheated... but at the same time I don't really care.... can we have it again tomorrow? And like, every day?" 

Success. 

So the moral of the story is, it kind of pays to be married to a food blogger - because it means you get to try lots of delicious things you wouldn't have otherwise tried.... like the world's best vegan mac and cheese recipe. 

And unsurprisingly it's been on the menu this week because it's my BIRTHWEEK! (aka: it's my birthday tomorrow so we're using the entire week as an excuse to make and eat all the delicious things). 
So let me share the recipe with you! >> 



The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe - healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, low fat, easy vegan recipes, baked macaroni and cheese

The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe
serves 5-6, depending on serving size
gluten free, egg free, dairy free, vegan, clean eating recipe, sugar free
(sauce can be made & used for individual portions as well - see notes)

To make the sauce:
3/4 cup (115g) raw unsalted cashews
1/4 cup (30g) raw macadamia nuts (or more cashews)
1/4 cup (15g) nutritional yeast (optional but recommended!) 
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste) 
1 cup water 

To make your baked mac and cheese:
1x batch of mac and cheese sauce 
~375-400g uncooked gluten free macaroni or penne/elbow shaped pasta, cooked for 2 minutes less than package directions
2 1/2 cups milk of your choice (we use unsweetened almond milk) 
salt and pepper to taste 
~1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs 
~1/2 tsp garlic salt 
  • To make your sauce: Add your cashews and macadamia nuts to your food processor or high speed blender and process until the mix starts to resemble nut butter and no large chunks remain (be sure to stop and scrape down the sides a few times so everything is incorporated). 
  • Add the rest of your ingredients and process until smooth, seasoning to taste with salt. 
  • To make your baked mac and cheese: Take out a large ovenproof casserole dish (or individual ramekin if you want to make a single serving - see notes below), lightly grease and set aside. 
  • Cook your pasta according to package directions, taking the pasta off the heat and draining 2 minutes before the end of the recommended cooking time (for example, if it says to cook the pasta for 10 minutes, only cook it for 8 minutes). 
  • Return your pasta back to your pot and add your sauce and milk, stirring to combine and seasoning to taste. 
  • Mix your breadcrumbs with your garlic salt and set aside.
  • Pour your pasta mixture into your prepared baking dish and sprinkle over your seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Cover your dish with foil and bake your pasta for 15 minutes covered before removing the foil and baking for a further 10-15 minutes - or until your breadcrumb topping is golden and your sauce has thickened and heated through.
  • Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing in the fridge to enjoy later (though we prefer it better fresh!).
Notes: To make a single serving, simply make up the sauce and use just a single portion of sauce and a single portion of cooked pasta. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs and bake for 10 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered - or until golden and heated through. 
The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can also be frozen in individual portions to use later.

But tell me, are you a sneaky cook too? 
Do you sneak vegetables/secret ingredients into your food or make things secretly healthy?
And do you have a special birthday dinner/meal? 
On my birthday I just tend to eat my favourite foods of the moment to make sure it's an especially delicious day!

    
   


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