I did it. Like, I, me, Ms. Pepsi and corned beef hash (in a former life) really did it! I made a vegan dinner that EVERYONE in my family truly loved! On a Saturday night when it would’ve been easy to cop out to my vegetarian February, I dug in, went to Whole Foods, scoured the Internet for a vegan Mac and cheese recipe and found one that, admittedly, made me initially uncomfortable. Cashews instead of cheese? I hate nuts, and the mere thought of blending them and cooking with them as a mozzarella/Colby Jack/cheddar substitute just sounds, well, wrong. But I am determined to do things I’ve never done before this year. I want to be intentional about my spiritual, emotional and physical health as well as my parenting, marriage, and business. In order to do so, I have to be bold, and making vegan macaroni and cheese is bold.
The words “vegan” and “cheese” should never be in the same sentence, but they are in this case. What I actually used was blended cashews – yes, nuts – with vegetables and stirred it with olive oil spread into the pasta.
You can find the full recipe at the end of the post and you can also buy a Vitamix by clicking on the link in the photo play-by-play.
Here’s a quick photo play by play on how to cook vegan mac and cheese:
Dice potatoes, carrots, and scallions.
Boil vegetables til fork tender. Drain. Save 2 cups of water.
Add cashews, coconut milk, and cooked veggies to Vitamix – and blend til smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Add water to make the texture look and feel like alfredo sauce.
Bake in muffin tins with panko. 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
As great as it looked and even though my resident taste-testing daughter approved, I still thought it might need some “crunch” at the top hence why I added the panko. Why did I bake all of this in a muffin tray you ask? Why not?!!! Plus I was concerned about the consistency. Remember I was trying to fool them.
I chose to serve it with a side salad.
As I sat in on the table, I’ll admit that I was nervous. Two full weeks into our vegetarian February has gone relatively well and I didn’t want it to stop. My son would be the hardest to win over because he is a carnivore to the core, but he’s been a good sport so far and I didn’t want to let him down. I watched him take his first bite – he did not know it had nuts in it – and then he took another and another.
“This is really good, mom. What’s in it?”
I smiled and was tempted to lie. He didn’t really want to know. But maybe it as a teachable moment.
“Cashews, potatoes, carrots and coconut milk.”
He looked at me, shrugged and kept eating.
My husband had now devoured three servings was eyeing a fourth but knew one of the twins had not eaten. Just knowing that he wanted more filled me with joy.
So there you have it. Vegan mac and cheese made by someone who would’ve NEVER imagined doing something like this. I was pumped to know it went over so well and encouraged to try it again and maybe another vegan dish or two or three. I gotta keep my husband’s heart healthy, my kids off the junk they’re peddled everywhere they go and me myself to a size 6. Happy healthy eating all!