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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Caramelized Banana Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Raisins and Cinnamon (Two Steps)

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Raisins and Cinnamon (Two Steps)

I guarantee that you haven’t made oatmeal this way before. Since you’re cooking the raisins and the bananas thoroughly but barely cooking the oats, you’re bringing out and developing the natural sugars of the fruit without letting the texture of the oats get mushy and gruel-like. The result is non-pasty oatmeal that doesn’t even need any sweetener.

This oatmeal is warming, flavorful and will leave you full and powered up until lunchtime. It has come through for me ever since I was a busy and newly vegan undergrad who needed a filling breakfast but had zero dollars. Now that it’s chilly outside again, this is the comforting breakfast that I come back to more than any other. 

If you ever buy bananas and they get overripe before getting eaten, just peel them and throw them in the freezer so that you can take them out whenever you want to make this.

Yield: 3 medium or 2 large portions

  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 cups old fashioned (not quick) oats*
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, optional
  • Optional add-ins/garnishes: chia seeds, hemp hearts, dried coconut, berries, chocolate chips, whatever your heart desires

1. With a potato masher, a fork or your hands, mash the banana up in a small pot. Add the raisins, almond milk, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in peanut butter thoroughly. Then stir in old fashioned oats, optional vanilla extract and any desired add-ins. Cook for just about 30 more seconds, or for a few minutes longer if you like the oats softer.

 

*you can make this with steel-cut oats and it’s delicious, but it takes much longer to cook and requires extra almond milk and more stirring to keep from burning

Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

A lot of people have heard me talk about this stew. This was the first dish I made when I went vegan, and it helped me go from “I’m probably not going to stick with this life choice, realistically” to “Wow, maybe I can do this.” I wasn’t a chef yet- I was a music teacher and had no idea what I was doing in terms of vegan food.

Since that first time I made this nearly seven years ago, I’ve served it to all kinds of people. I made it to impress the parents of various partners (shoutout if you’re one of those parents or ex-partners) and I made it in my interview with the chef who ended up giving me the prep cook job that lead to be become a chef myself.  It’s always been a crowd pleaser, including among folks with very limited exposure to international foods (let alone West African foods.) It’s just so hearty and soulful and fresh, and it covers all your major food groups (except the tequila food group and the french fry food group), so it feels really filling and nourishing.

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or water + bouillon)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1.5 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced (aprox. two medium sweet potatoes or one huge one)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, washed and torn
  1. Place the rice in a small , covered pot on high heat with one cup of the broth.  Once it’s boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer until the rice is about two thirds of the way done (about 25 minutes)
  2. Sauté your onions in a large pot on medium-high heat until they are deeply golden-brown and caramelized. Once the onions are about a minute from being done, add garlic and saute until just beginning to brown
  3. Add the remaining broth, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and par-cooked rice. Cover and cook on medium heat until the rice is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft. It will take a while- about 20 minutes or longer- but this allows everything to really soak in the flavors.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce and peanut butter. Add it into the pot and add the kale in as well. You may need to add a bit more broth/water.
  5. Taste and adjust the levels of lemon juice, peanut butter and soy sauce to your liking
  6. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the kale is wilted

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.