Whenever I ask my community about what comfort foods they'd like to be transformed into a healthified version, mac and cheese always tops the list. Now that we know processed foods aren't part of a balanced UnDiet lifestyle, a healthy mac and cheese is the perfect thing to satisfy those cravings and nourish ourselves at the same time.
Why do we all love mac and cheese? The answer is simple. Most of us were raised on it. It was the go-to convenience food of our childhood and likely landed itself as a staple in our cupboards when we first moved out on our own.
So what is so bad about macaroni and cheese? Well, if you were to make your own traditional variety from scratch, it will be loaded with copious amounts of cheese, butter, sour cream, maybe bacon and glutenous pasta noodles. You can read more about the negative effects of dairy here and the dangers of gluten here.
And then there is the stuff we were raised on, the stuff that came in those blue boxes, that had an endless shelf-life. Remember this commercial? I do, because people were always telling me I looked like that little girl.
For decades, Kraft Dinner was packed with artificial flavours and colourings that have a wide range of health effects, which are particularly damaging to children. Due in part to a widespread petition, Kraft made the decision to remove its synthetic dyes and while I certainly want to recognize companies for making positive change, that doesn't mean that powdered cheese sauce is going to now be a health food. And, like many other companies nowadays, Kraft has jumped on the healthwashing train and added things like omega-3s and cauliflower to its product line. Again, pumping a product with fake nutrients or slapping buzzwords onto the package isn't going to make it a health food.
Since we all love mac and cheese, and since we can never have too many ways to prepare squash, you're going to love my amazing healthified mac and cheese. Now please keep in mind when you make this, it contains neither the mac nor the cheese, but it's amazingly delicious.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ cups water
- ½ cup cashews
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 1-2 Tbsp miso paste
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds or tahini
- 1½ Tbsp arrowroot starch
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 large or 2-3 small cloves of garlic
- ¼ tsp paprika
- Pinch of dry mustard
- Pinch of turmeric
- Sea salt to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice squash in half lengthwise and de-seed.
- Generously rub open side of squash with olive oil and place open side down on parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.
- While squash is baking, make your cashew milk by blending the water and cashews together.
- Strain out the pulp using a nut milk bag or strainer (if you have a high powered blender skip this step).
- Put nut milk and remaining ingredients into the blender and blend on high until mixed (if you have a weaker blender, or are using a food processor, you may want to mince your garlic first).
- Place the sauce in a pot and heat on low just until sauce is warm.
- When squash is ready, using a fork, scrape out the insides into your bowl. Top with sauce and sprinkle with paprika or cayenne.
Additional Options Are Many
If you want to 'soup up' your healthy mac and cheese, try one or more of these:
- Add some sauteed shiitake mushrooms
- Add some diced green onion
- Pan fry or bake some tamari infused tempeh if you are the type who liked bacon with your mac and cheese
- Add a little homemade ketchup
- Serve over salad or whole grain of choice