The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

Daiya shreds? Nah. Tofu? Nope. That “hack” where you boil potatoes, carrots and onions and blend them into a “cheese” sauce? No sweetie, those are vegetables. Cashews? Not this time, actually.

This is another recipe I’ve been working on and perfecting for almost seven years straight. Having lived in the South for three years, I’ve tried my share of vegan mac and cheese recipes. I’m going to put aside any humility I have and be straight with you: this is the best one, and omnivores and vegans alike beg me to make it all the time.

mac cheese

Yield: 12 Servings

  • 1lb pasta, regular or gluten-free (for gluten-free, I recommend Rozoni or Banza)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free

Cheese Sauce:

  • 1.5 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (almond and soy work best here)
  • 1.5 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 cup canola/refined coconut/grapeseed/vegetable oil*
  • 1/3 cup tamari/soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, optional**
  • 1 Tbsp mellow white miso, optional (Or, if you have it, 1-2 Tbsp of juice from a jar of kimchi or saurkraut. Trust me on this.)

Directions:

  1. Cook the sweet potato until it’s soft and mash-able by boiling or microwaving in water.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.  Boil about 5 cups of water in a big pot and cook pasta to an al dente texture (not fully soft) according to package directions.
  3. Add all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (or use an immersion blender.) Once pasta is cooked, drain and dump it into a 9×13 pan. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix evenly. Top with breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake until the top looks golden and crispy, about 25 minutes.

 

*If you hate the fact that there’s oil in this, I apologize. Mac and cheese has never been known for its health-giving properties. You can try subbing out the oil with cashew cream for a less-processed fat source, you just might need to add a little extra water to the sauce to thin it out.

**If you don’t have smoked paprika, don’t worry about it, but it gives the mac and cheese an incredible bit of smoky depth.

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Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Raw Vegan)

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Raw Vegan)

Lemon-tahini dressing is nothing new under the plant-based sun- it’s been something of a vegan food cliche for years. It’s my all-time favorite salad dressing, but I really don’t like a lot of recipes for it that are on the internet. You have to get a very specific balance of flavors here.

If you use a recipe with the right ingredient proportions, this dressing is super creamy but also savory and sharp in all the right ways. It’s great to make salads full-flavored and satisfying without dairy or eggs.

This dressing is based off of tahina sauce, which comes from Arabic culinary traditions. Tahina sauce is a little thinner, has some ingredient differences and can be served warm, and it’s delicious if you need a sauce to cook a hearty entree in (for a good tahina sauce recipe, check out the incredible Gaza Kitchen cookbook by Leila El-Haddad.) This dressing, on the other hand, can’t be served warm (though unfortunately I’ve seen restaurants try), but is better for fresh salads. Like traditional tahina sauce, you can absolutely serve this on falafel.

Yield: roughly 1 cup of dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste- found most affordably at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (roughly one large lemon)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 5 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 tsp red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp agave or sweetener of choice (but for the love of god not stevia)
  • 1 Tbsp water

1. Blend all ingredients

Note that you may need to add more water after refrigerating this or after letting it sit out, as it tends to thicken.

 

My favorite salad combo to serve this with, besides falafel salad:

  • Mixed greens (plus some arugula if you have it)
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Kidney beans and/or roasted chickpeas
  • Chopped red onion
  • Sliced carrot
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sprouts (if you have them)

 

Photo by Zion Adventure Photog

The Miracle Brownies

The Miracle Brownies

I made these brownies last week for the Creatrix Certification and Training event I catered. The phrase “multiple orgasms” was used more than once to describe the experience of eating them.

 

I feel like these are a little too good to be true because they contain no animal products, no refined sugars, no grains and they’re quick and easy to throw together, and yet they’re by far my favorite brownies of all time. Including all the brownies I ate back in the days before I even knew what the word “vegan” meant.

  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup almond butter (or sunflower seed butter, hazelnut butter, a combination of all of those, etc. You can do up to 1/4 cup of peanut butter and still not have it end up tasting like peanuts)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder or cacao powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks, melted (I melt them in a DIY double boiler, stirring constantly with a little almond milk or coconut oil)
  • Optional: chopped walnuts, coconut, etc. for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper or grease it well
2. Wisk applesauce together with vanilla, melted chocolate, nut/seed butter and maple syrup/agave
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, coconut flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly
4. Smooth batter into pan and sprinkle on any toppings if desired
5. Bake for 30 minutes (closer to 35 at high altitude), then let cool fully

PRO TIP: if you omit the baking soda and refrigerate these instead of baking them, this recipe makes amazing fudge! I can’t tell if I like the fudge version or the brownie version better.

Balsamic Marinated Black Bean Salad

Balsamic Marinated Black Bean Salad

Photo by Samantha Bliss of redfollowsbliss.com

This is so easy to make it’s almost embarrassing, but it’s been my favorite summer salad and one of my favorite all-year-round side dishes since I was a kid.

It’s perfect as a picnic side and even more perfect for when you have to throw something together at the last minute. It’s fresh, full-flavored and offers a decent amount of protein, and people always remark about how much they love it.

Yield: 8 Cups

  • 4 cups cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained and thoroughly rinsed)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen is fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • Optional: parsely or cilantro to garnish
  1. Mix all ingredients together, taste, and adjust by adding a little more salt, pepper, olive oil or balsamic vinegar if you like
  2. Let sit for 20 minutes to overnight
  3. Serve cold, garnished with parsley or cilantro if desired

That’s it. Enjoy!

 

One Vegan Burger Recipe to Rule Them All  

One Vegan Burger Recipe to Rule Them All  

I loved me some hamburgers when I was a kid. My mom would always mix ketchup, mustard and other seasonings and spices into the ground beef and I was all about it. But as much as I loved hamburgers, I honestly love these so much more than I ever loved the meat version. The last meat-eater who tried these kept saying “There’s so much flavor in these. I can’t get over how much flavor is in these.”

No joke, it took me eight years to develop a good veggie burger recipe; I was really intimidated by the task and never fully satisfied with my attempts. I tried making black bean and quinoa burgers, broccoli and sweet potato burgers, etc…forget all that.

Originally inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s beet burgers, these also contain beets but not to the point that you can taste them. The lentils, walnuts, almond butter and brown rice give the burgers a lot of protein and heartiness, and the beet color makes them look like meat without trying too hard to look like meat, you know?

Above all, these burgers are pretty easy to make– pulse the base ingredients in a food processor, mix in all the rest, patty ‘em up and throw them on a pan. Nothing has to be perfect or exact. They’re even better leftover, too; I may or may not have eaten one cold for breakfast this morning.

 

IMG_20170712_164727923_HDR

Yield: 10 burgers

  • 1 cup uncooked beets, peeled and shredded/grated (roughly one medium beet)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (can be leftover)
  • 2 cups cooked green or brown lentils (can be leftover)
  • ¾ cup walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours ahead of time
  • 1 cup onion (roughly one small onion), roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free
  • ½ cup almond butter and/or sunflower seed butter
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • 1.5 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2.5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the generic Kroger brand is vegan, as are several specialty brands)
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, optional
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, optional
  • ¼ tsp ground fennel seed, optional
  • Olive oil for the pan
  1.  Make sure rice and lentils are fully cooled and drained of any excess liquid. Drain and rinse the walnuts
  2. Pulse garlic in food processor until broken up into tiny pieces, add chopped onion and puree for about 30 seconds
  3. Add the walnuts and pulse until broken up into small crumbles. Dump the contents of the food processor out into a large mixing bowl
  4. Add the rice, lentils and shredded beets into the food processor and pulse until everything is broken up into small pieces. The mixture should start to look like ground beef
  5. Transfer the contents of the food processor to the mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. If your rice and/or lentils were on the mushy side, add about 1/4 cup more breadcrumbs to counterbalance the excess moisture in the mix. Use your hands to mix thoroughly
  6. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer. Don’t skip this step or else the burgers won’t hold together as well
  7. Form the mixture into patties. You want each patty to be about ½ cup of mixture.
  8. Preheat a large heavy-duty (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium heat (higher heat will result in them burning on the outsides and undercooking on the insides)
  9. Pour a thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 8-10 minutes on each side, checking occasionally to make sure they don’t burn on the bottoms. You can drizzle in a little more oil when you flip them to the other side if needed. Cook until the burgers are heated through and have a little char on them
  10. Serve with your favorite burger fixin’s
breakfast of champions

Vegan Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce

Vegan Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce

This is the #1 dish I make most often throughout the warm months of the year. I keep waiting to get sick of them, but I never do. They’re great as an appetizer, a light lunch, a way to impress guests or as an addition to a summer picnic or potluck. Essentially you’re eating a salad- you’re getting all the beautiful colors and nutrients and all the crunch of those fresh veggies- but they are about a thousand times more satisfying and fun.

Called gỏi cuốn and originally hailing from Vietnam, this dish is a classic. This version of the sauce  deviates a bit from the traditional version in order to better balance the lack of animals in the rolls, but it’s quick and easy to throw together.

Above all, these rolls are very flexible. The mint and basil are pretty key, but if you don’t have one or a few of the other veggies on hand, it’s no problem. You ideally want all of those different colors and textures and nutrients, but even in the picture above you can see that I made the rolls without lettuce, bean sprouts or carrots, and it was fine. Even if you don’t have the rice noodles on hand, you can do an all-veggie version that’s still good. Likewise, if you want to throw in other veggies, strips of grilled tofu, sautéed oyster mushrooms, or even kimchi or green papaya salad for some cross-cultural fusion, the world is your proverbial oyster.

summer roll

Yield: 6 large summer rolls

  • 6 circular rice paper wrappers*
  • Rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles*
  • 2 carrots, julienned or peeled into ribbons
  • 1/3 red cabbage, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 large romaine lettuce leaves, cut down the middle lengthwise and then in half
  • ½ cucumber, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 handful Thai basil (regular basil will work ok if you can’t get Thai basil)
  • 1 handful fresh mint
  • 2 handfuls rinsed bean sprouts, optional
  • large, shallow bowl of warm water

Sauce:

  • ½  cup + 2 Tbsp crunchy or creamy peanut butter**
  • 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • juice and pulp of one lime
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp ginger
  • 1-3 Tbsp sambal oelek or Sriracha, depending on how much you like spice
  • 1.5 Tbsp agave, maple syrup or date paste
  • 1.5 Tbsp hoisin sauce (make sure it’s vegan and/or gluten-free if that’s important to you)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

*These can be found at International and Asian grocery stores, most Whole Foods stores (albeit for five times the price), or can be bought online

** Most standard peanut butter has added sugar/sweetener in it, and most “natural” peanut butter does not (check your labels to make sure.) No judgment if you’re not using the natural stuff, but in that case you may not need to add as much agave/maple syrup/date paste to your sauce. Hold off on adding them at first and then taste your sauce and add them in only if you want additional sweetness.

  1. In a blender or with a handheld immersion blender, blend the garlic and ginger together with the lime juice and tamari. Add in the sambal/Sriracha, sweetener, hoisin sauce and sesame oil and blend until smooth. Then add the peanut butter and blend or whisk until fully incorporated
  2. Make sure to have all of your prepped ingredients ready and in reach. Soak a rice paper wrapper in warm water for about five seconds. Lay it flat on a large cutting board
  3. Carefully layer your ingredients on the lower third of the wrapper, leaving about an inch of empty wrapper on both sides and below
  4. Roll as shown here. It takes a little bit of practice, but even if at first they come out looking a little wackadoo at first, they’ll still taste great.

NOTE- different brands of rice paper wrappers will need a little more or less time to soak in the water before they’re pliable, so if you try one and it’s too stiff or too mushy, take note and adjust as you go

summer rolls 1
from https://senioryear2realworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/spring-rolls-and-thai-peanut-dipping-sauce/

Serve them immediately, dunk them in sauce and enjoy!