06 March 2012

cheese-free mac & cheese?




I tried my hand at a vegan mac & cheese recipe a little while ago. That's right, a cheese-free mac & cheese. We're still eating dairy, big time, but we no longer regularly buy cow's milk or even cream for our coffee. We do, however, eat a bit of cheese. And yogurt. And we eat eggs. So I've been experimenting with using a bit less cheese in my diet-- having completely dairy-free meals and also just scaling back in certain recipes. I found this recipe in a Whole Living daily challenge email and was curious.

I've found plenty of promising dairy-free mac & cheese recipes. What I liked about this particular recipe was that it didn't call for Daiya soy cheese. I should admit that I've only tried Daiya once, but I found it woefully lacking in all areas. The recipe I followed used cashews for creaminess and nutritional yeast and tahini for flavor. I also added in a bit of mustard and paprika to spice it up.

The verdict? Pretty damn good. It's not going to fool anyone into believing that it is real mac & cheese, but I found it to be a nice creamy, thick, comfort food substitute. The tahini and lemon juice give it a tangy bite, the cashews impart a perfect creaminess and the nutritional yeast adds in its nutty, almost-cheesy flavor. (Not familiar nutritional yeast? Learn more about it in the inaugural episode of the From Scratch Club podcast! Subscribe via iTunes here.)

Cheese-less mac & cheese. It's possible. It's not that bad. It's a fine vegan comfort food. It certainly doesn't taste like your mama's delicious homemade mac & cheese casserole, but it will do in a dairy-free pinch. Non-vegans... don't burn me at the stake for attempting a cheese-free mac & cheese recipe. Vegans or dairy-free folks, send me your tips! (I should note that last night, we made a very cheesy lasagna and, together, ate almost half of it in one sitting. Sigh.)

9 comments:

  1. I clicked on that recipe too! I hardly ever do. I'm glad you are always willing to guinea-pig things for me , ;)

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    1. Right? I rarely click through on the daily emails but this one was intriguing. Let me know if you want Mr. Vitamix to blend your cashews. I forgot to introduce him to you the other night!

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  2. i find it really unfortunate that daiya has become the ubiquitous vegan cheese. i do not care for the flavor or its after effects on my insides (something we kindly refer to as "the daiyas"). i've eaten quite a few varieties of vegan cheese, and my favorites are all homemade. none of them taste exactly like dairy, but the good ones stand on their own flavor and texture (with none of the processed food squick factor of store bought varieties).

    anyway, i've rambled. my two suggestions for vegan macs... 1.) if it calls for more than 1/4 C of nooch (nutritional yeast)... it's too much. PASS. 2.) try subbing out the lemon juice with some ACV. it adds tang without imparting much flavor. CHEESE SHOULD NOT TASTE LIKE LEMON.

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    1. I was soooo hoping you would chime in with your vegan wisdom! I'll keep those tips in mind :)

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  3. Looks yummy! I love the recipes Wholeliving provides. I have tried a non-dairy Mac & Cheese before, and I found that adding some veggies (brocolli, onions, muchrooms, and even artichokes) helped with the taste. I know...not your typical Mac & Cheese, but it was good!

    Just wondering...if you don't put milk or cream in your coffee, what do you use?

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    1. I've been using coconut creamer by So Delicious. I've tried soy-based creamers but like the taste of this coconut one much more. Any non-dairy milk would work too if you don't mind the thinner results. The French Vanilla coconut creamer is divine.

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    2. Great, thanks for the tip! I will have to try it... I hate what soy milk did to my coffee. It tasted disasterous :)

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  4. I think a little piece of my soul just died as I contemplated cheeseless mac n' cheese. I better go eat some meat now to get the universe rebalanced back on its gimbals . . .

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