Inspired by the brightly colored butternut squash I was gifted from a friend’s garden, I decided to play around with making a vegan mac n cheese that used the brightly colored veggie to enhance a vegan “cheese” sauce that I knew my kiddos would gobble up. My kids are not vegan, but I totally believe in having a balance of nutrition at home. I have always introduced vegan elements along with traditional proteins….and I feel like it not only has given them a stronger nutritional foundation, but a much more open and accepting palate. As a mama bear, those are two of my biggest goals in the kitchen!
If soaking cashews is a new technique for you, then you are in for a real treat with this recipe. I love using them to create creamy, luscious sauces that are completely dairy free. Depending on how much liquid content you add, you can easily create “cream” sauces for pasta or dessert, and “cheese” sauces and dips that are addictive. Traditionally, recipes will call for you to soak the cashews in cold, fresh water for anywhere from 4-24 hours. Since that is not always convenient, I chose to pour boiling water over my cashews and let them soak for 20 minutes. This does affect the nutrition level, as the heat destroys some of the beneficial enzymes that traditional soaking nurtures. So, if time isn’t an issue, place the nuts in a bowl of fresh water and leave them in the fridge overnight. Your call!
Timing wise, it works well to roast your squash while your nuts are soaking. I personally love to use my Vitamix for this recipe because it makes the sauce so smooth, but a traditional food processor can get the job done. Even a regular blender may do the trick best. Simply add the soaked cashews, the butternut squash, the nutritional yeast, salt and water to the machine and whirl away!
Add the sauce to your cooked macaroni noodles and you are set for a luscious mac n cheese that will not only satisfy your cravings, but will have your kids asking for seconds. These are seconds you can feel good about! Full of protein and thanks to the butternut squash, more potassium than a banana! Plus, butternut squash dishes out a healthy dose of vitamin E, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and soooo much more!
I love that this is a comfort food that I can feel good about. Nutrition that feeds my body and makes my tastebuds do the happy dance! This kid-approved recipe is a total score for this mama!!
All the golden nutrients from butternut squash and the protein of cashews makes this dish the slam dunk of comfort food. Creamy, cheesy and 100% guilt free. You can even make this with gluten free noodles, if needed.
- 1 cup butternut squash roasted
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 lb uncooked macaroni noodles regular or GF
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Coat the cut side with a bit of olive oil and place it cut side down on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet. Roast it for 30 minutes in a 400F oven.
In the meantime, place the cashews in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them soak for 20 minutes.
Once the cashews are ready, drain the water and put them in a food processor along with the nutritional yeast, one cup of water, salt and one cup of the roasted butternut squash. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Boil your noodles until they are al dente. Mix the creamy mac sauce with the noodles and serve hot.