Healthy Mac and Cheese

by Haley Fritz

We all grew up eating the ultimate comfort food: macaroni and cheese. But for those looking to lead a healthier lifestyle, the orange, highly-processed stuff we grew up with isn’t the best option for optimal wellness--even when celebrating National Mac and Cheese Day on July 14!

Nowadays, boxed noodles and powdered cheese are no longer the only options for premade mac and cheese. Healthier frozen options now line grocery store shelves, including brands like Amy’s Kitchen and Blake’s All Natural.

You can also follow a plant-based, gluten-free recipe--such as the one below--to enjoy the mental health benefits of creamy, comforting mac and cheese alongside the physical health benefits of whole foods.

Below, our friends Heather and Jenny from Spork Foods shared a delicious vegan recipe for mac and cheese that uses almond milk, light miso and nutritional yeast to recreate the texture and flavor of the cheese sauce we all know and love.

Healthy Macaroni and Cheese


Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Spelt Bread Crumb Topping

Serves 4-6

Pasta Ingredients

6-8 cups water for boiling, salted

12 ounces quinoa or spelt elbow macaroni

Cheese Sauce Ingredients

1/3 cup non-hydrogenated buttery spread

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

21⁄2 cups almond milk (So Delicious brand)

2/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

1⁄2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon light miso paste

1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons mustard, stone ground or German

Bread Crumb Ingredients

2 slices organic spelt bread, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons neutral tasting high-heat oil

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

1⁄2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large (6-quart) pot. Add macaroni and cook as described on package, about 7-9 minutes.

For the sauce: Heat a medium (4-quart) pot over medium heat. Add butter and flour. Whisk together to form a paste, creating a roux. Add almond or soymilk, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper, garlic, miso, lemon juice and mustard. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick and creamy.

For the bread crumbs: Place bread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, agave and lemon juice. Toss to coat and bake for about 7-9 minutes or until crisp. Pulse bread mixture in a food processor until bread crumb consistency is reached, and set aside.

Once macaroni is finished cooking, drain and add to pot with sauce. Mix thoroughly to coat. Place mixture in a greased 8 x 8 baking dish, or 6 personal ramekins or cocottes, and top with homemade bread crumbs.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until bubbles appear in center of dish. Serve warm from the oven.

-- © Spork Foods, 2009

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