Vegan Chipotle Mac and Cheese with Greens
I loved mac and cheese when I was little. I could have had it for every meal of the day every day. Well that and grilled cheese. I guess I was just a cheese loving little girl. It never dawned on me that it might not be healthy because I didn't really care I just knew that it was good. I would beg my parents to make it for me, and we always had it on hand. My Mom at least tried to add veggies to it to make it healthier. When I got older and was more aware of what I was eating and the nutritional value that it had, I didn't really enjoy mac and cheese anymore. To me it was just a pile of white carbs with cheese and cream which wasn't really what I was going for. Not that it isn't fine to indulge once in a while because you should but I try to have at least something healthy in every meal. So I gave it up for a long time. That is until I went vegan and began experimenting with healthier options with veggies included. Because there should be veggies in every savory dinner as far as I am concerned. My Mom was telling me about this frozen Mac and Cheese that she bought and I said to her, "I bet I can make an even better vegan version". It was on. Although I was pretty confident because I have made vegan mac and cheese quite a bit before. I am one of those people who likes to experiment with things and make them in different ways to find the best one so this was going to be a different version. I have made the regular potato and carrot version of mac and cheese that many vegans seem to swear by but I actually prefer something like squash in the base. My Mom however doesn't like squash and I was making this mac and cheese for her and to suit her tastes so I went with yams.
We both love yams, so this was going to be good. I decided to make it chipotle mac and cheese as well with a little kick. My Mom loves to sprinkle a little chipotle powder on things the way most people use red pepper flakes so it was perfect. This cheese sauce is actually really easy to make once your yams are cooked and it comes together fast in a blender. It is so good you will want to eat it with a spoon, or maybe dip some chips in it...I might have done both of those things while making it. It reminds me of the mac and cheese sauce I enjoyed as a child but better. The thing that makes it appear to be rich like cheese is the cashew butter that I add. But it is surprisingly mostly yams. Who would have thought they would make such a good cheese sauce. Banza had sent me some pasta to try, so that was what I used this time. I use gluten free pasta 99% of the time, but I only like the ones made with beans that actually have protein in them. This one was made from chickpeas, which is awesome! Don't worry, there was no beany flavor, just tasted like regular pasta.
Once it was all mixed together I added in some greens to give it even more nutrients. It was super delicious. My Mom loved it as well, she said it was better than the mac and cheese she had bought and the flavors were perfectly balanced. Also, that it tasted like dairy and you would not be able to tell it was vegan. That makes me so happy! If you are craving mac and cheese, but want it to be healthy as well, you must give this a try! It may become a staple this Winter!
Vegan Chipotle Mac and Cheese with Greens
- 2 cups mashed yam potato*
- 3/4 cup hot filtered water (or as needed)
- 1/3 cup raw cashew butter
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
- 3/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 16 oz gluten free pasta
- 2-3 large handfuls of arugula or baby spinach
- Combine the sweet potato, water, cashew butter, garlic, cider vinegar, yeast, chipotle, and sea salt in a high speed blender and blend until smooth and the consistency of cheese (if it is too thick add a little more water). Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, then place back in the pot, add the greens and cheese, and stir to coat. Pour into a serving dish, and serve!
*To cook the sweet potatoes, I like to roast them in the oven. Take a large sweet potato, poke a few holes in it, and cut in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment and bake for about an hour at 400F degrees or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool before mashing.