VEGAN MAC' AND CHEEZE
I scream, you scream, we all scream for MAC' N CHEEZE!
Especially those of us with food allergies, dietary preferences, or just a healthy appreciation for health.
It can be hard to find meals as satisfying as the ones you used to remember eating. You know, like when you were six and ate tacos for breakfast and waffles for dinner. (Okay, I'm exaggerating: I'm almost 23 and I still do that.)
But seriously- I MISS MAC' N CHEESE. Like, the super gross kind you could heat up in the plastic cups in the microwave (cancer, anyone?). But since I can't justify that awful snack, I decided to create a slightly spicy, flavorful, much healthier recreation of the old favorite.
Loaded with secret ingredient goodies like nutritional yeast, tahini, and turmeric, its worth more than you'd expect, too. The cheezy sauce is chock full of B vitamins and anti-inflammatory power just waiting to be gobbled up!
This dish makes me forget why I ever ate cheese in the first place. With alternatives this good, what was I waiting for?
The cheeze sauce is a little tangy, with just enough spice added to give you a few extra layers of flavor. Whenever I make this dish, we finish the whole pot in a day. Never any leftovers, here.
And sometimes-maybe its the B vitamins, or maybe its that cheesy flavor- I just crave a spoonful of nutritional yeast. And though I certainly don't mind just going for it, it can be a little dry.
This is a way better alternative.
Did I mention this was a two step recipe? Blend, stir. Enjoy.
Seriously though, you're gonna love me for this. You're only fifteen minutes from a big, warm bowl of childhood memories...ready, GO!
12 ounces gluten-free pasta elbows
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup unsweetened milk substitute of choice (we've used hemp, almond, and walnut-all delicious!)
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tahini
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Gluten-free pasta, especially when brown rice based, tends to absorb more water than normal, so be sure to add extra water to the pot before boiling; it usually takes a few extra minutes for GF pasta to reach the al dente stage, too. And be sure to add a little salt to the water before boiling- it flavors the pasta.
As pasta cooks, combine the raw cashews and nut milk in a blender or food processor. I never soak mine before hand- I prefer the slightly thicker sauce that results from not soaking them in this recipe.
Once combined, add the rest of the ingredients. Yup, all of 'em.
(Told you this recipe was easy!)
Blend until combined. Set aside.
Once pasta is al dente (literally meaning "to the bite"; leave a little texture in that pasta! Don't boil it into mushy submission.), strain, rinse, and put it back into the pot. Pour in the cheeze sauce, using a wooden spoon to gently toss and coat the pasta.
Turn the burner back onto low and continue to cook the pasta and cheeze sauce together about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens to the noodles.
Serve with a garnish of fresh basil or cilantro, avocado, or a little hot sauce for the best grown-up vegan mac' n cheeze you can imagine.
To reheat, simply warm the pasta in a pan with a little non-dairy milk, stirring 'til creamy.
Saves well in a refrigerated space for about a week.
Beer Battered Onion Rings
The other day we made Baked Black Bean Burgers
to share with you guys, but you should know-we didn't eat those burgers alone; they each came with a hefty side portion of these awesome, crispy onion rings.
We filled the onion ring batter with an orange wheat beer that truly compliments the thick, crunchy rings and makes for an onion ring so good, its more suited to being an onion-ring-donut!
We don't normally make or eat many fried foods, but sometimes, you just have a craving that needs to be caved to. And frankly, these were worth every extra bit of oil and calories involved. I know we shouldn't make a treat like this weekly, but damn its tempting.
1 large onion
1 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tblsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 bottle (vegan!)
orange wheat beer
1 cup peanut oil, for frying
First, chop your onion into large rings by slicing the onion width-wise about every 1/4-1/2 inch. Set aside.
Grab a mixing bowl and whisk together flour, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, salt & pepper, baking powder, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Add the orange wheat beer and whisk again to combine all ingredients.
Once mixture is prepared, pour the one cup of peanut oil into a deep, heavy skillet and let heat to between 350-375 degrees. Test using a thermometer.
Place individual slices of onion into the batter, coating thoroughly. Once coated, drop into the heated oil using tongs. Let fry on each side for about 3-5 minutes, flipping midway.
Be sure when you're adding rings to the oil to not overcrowd the rings. Usually about 3-5 rings can fit to fry at a time.
Rings are finished when they reach a uniform golden-brown color and crunch.
Remove the rings from the oil using tongs, and immediately place onto paper-towel lined plates. This allows the rings to cool while the paper towels soak up any extra oil.
Wait until cooled, then enjoy with ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, or just by themselves!
(We ate ours pretty quickly, and I wouldn't recommend saving any extras. Fried foods get kind of yucky when left over night in the fridge! However, the batter would be fine by itself in the fridge for several days.)
Spinach Artichoke Dip
When I was in high school I worked as a waitress at a brew pub. It served delicious, fatty, animal filled foods, and I loved 'em (back then). They were famous for their spinach artichoke dip-by far the best thing on the menu in my opinion. It was gooey, cheesy, garlic-y and filled with hunks of artichoke and spinach. Served warm with tortilla chips? Just try and stop me.
I haven't found a great replacement since. Even before I went vegan, I had a really hard time finding a dip as thick and fresh and delicious as the pub's was. Today, I found a replacement.
We adapted the recipe from Oh She Glows
, and it is so, so good.
Thick chunks of artichoke and spinach fill the not-too-cheesy sauce and perfectly top tortilla or pita chips! Its the perfect dip for sharing...if it lasts that long!
1 piece whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1 medium sized onion (about 2 cups), chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-15 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (we used Teese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine in a food processor 1 piece of whole wheat bread and 1 tsp vegan butter. Pulse until crumbs form. Set aside in a bowl.
In a food processor combine white beans, nutritional yeast, water, salt, basil, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
In a large cast iron skillet, combine olive oil and onions; heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes. Once garlic and onions are cooked and smelling delicious, add chopped artichokes and spinach.
Stir and cook on medium heat until spinach wilts.
Shut off heat and add contents of food processor to skillet. Stir well.
Add 3/4 of the breadcrumbs and all the vegan mozzarella cheese to the mixture, stirring again.
At this point you'll have a thick, veggie filled, yellowish mixture that will smell cheesy and awesome. Try and resist! Its light years better after being cooked.
Spread the rest of the breacdrumbs on top of the mixture, then cover the cast iron pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove aluminum foil and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until mixture is bubbly and melty and hot!
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving with tortilla or pita chips.
(More of a visual person? For more pictures of the process, read on!)
We took lots of picture of the process this time. Here are some visual directions:
Some of our ingredients...
Choppin' up all the veggies!
The cheeeeeeze sauce
Adding the artichoke hearts to the onions and garlic...
...and the spinach!
Giving everything a good stir and letting all the veggies cook down.
Adding in the vegan mozzarella and the cheeeezy white bean sauce!
Sprinkling with breadcrumbs!
The delicious, ooey-gooey finished product!
Snacking on goldfish crackers may be the one thing I miss as a vegan. Knowing full well that they're sodium filled, preservative filled, unnaturally colored little demon fishes, I avoid them. Plus, every time I even smell that fake cheddar scent, I end up on a three day craving spree trying to replicate their flavor. Alas, no such luck. One of our readers led us to a link for the website Chef Chloe
, where we found a VEGAN goldfish cracker recipe...and the best part? There are only 8 ingredients! And four of them you already have in your kitchen, guaranteed.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons vegan butter
- 4 tablespoons cold water
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, combine everything but the butter and water. Mix until combined. Add butter and pulse until crumbly. Add water and pulse until dough just comes together.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Now its time to cut your fishies! For this part, you can purchase a goldfish cutter (pretty cheap online) or you can get creative and be cheap and make your own! Just carefully cut an aluminum can lengthwise into several 1 inch strips, a fold into a fish (or any other!) shape. Secure with a staple or clear tape, like I used, and cut away! I even had my roommate add little eyes and mouths using the end of a toothpick while I cut out crackers. Here's me with the cutter I was entirely too proud of:
Definitely not perfect, but it is recycled, and one of my New Years resolutions involves no more paying for things I can make myself. Plus, his slightly misshapen tail adds a little character...right? Right! Once your school is all cut out, bake on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes or until golden and very lightly browned. Store in an airtight container...if they last that long! These little babies are so good! They're a bit salty and kind of reminiscent of these
crackers we used to eat sometimes when we were little, which makes me love them even more because they're a WAY healthier version. Try these, you just can't be disappointed by a snack that smiles back!