This creamy vegetable-based (NO butternut squash!) healthy and easy mac and cheese recipe is the last macaroni recipe you’ll ever need, take it from a mac and cheese connoisseur! Kids will love it too, they won’t be able to tell that the cheese sauce is cheese-free. Vegan + gluten-free + dairy-free.
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Mac and cheese is by far, my all-time favorite food!
My love for it started when I was just a wee little lass. I had no idea it would follow me into adulthood, but here we are. It’s comfort food, pure and simple.
I’ve never tried a mac and cheese that I didn’t like.
Wait, I take that back.
The first time that I tried to make it from scratch on my own was a huge fail! I didn’t know how to make a roux, I didn’t season the water for the noodles…it was a disaster. I ended up hungry and still craving mac and cheese with a sink full of dirty pots and pans. Ugh.
I’ve come a long way since then, mainly because I’m transitioning to being a full-time vegan, so I’ve pretty much cut cheese out of my diet.
For a mac and cheese lover, cutting out cheese is like cutting off my right hand. Nooooo, I need cheese! What am I going to do?! How will I get my comfort food fix?
I started out slowly by making butternut squash mac which cut the amount of cheese in half and substituted butternut squash for the rest. It was delicious but I needed to get rid of the rest of the cheese. I loved the butternut squash sauce but it just didn’t reheat that well. It would dry out and not stay saucy like mac an cheese should be.
I needed to try again.
The BEST Healthy and Easy Mac and Cheese Recipe
I’m so glad that I failed the first time and tried again because I ended up making the best vegan cheese sauce that I poured over (another childhood favorite) broccoli stuffed purple sweet potatoes! The sauce reheats really well, and with a bit of water, it’s just as smooth and creamy as the first time you make it.
I scratched the butternut squash and used potatoes and cashews instead to make it extra creamy + a couple carrots to give it the traditional yellow color.
I’ve had so much success using cashews in recipes that call for cheese, I just knew it would work in this easy mac and cheese recipe too. If you’re nut-free, don’t fret! I’ve also made this recipe using chickpeas in place of the cashews and it was just as delicious!
Other Popular Dairy-Free Cashew Recipes:
- Healthy cashew cream spinach artichoke dip (our favorite!)
- Rainbow cherry tomato pesto cream stuffed portobello mushrooms
- Dairy-free spinach artichoke dip stuffed shells
- Cashew cream broccoli salad
- Spicy Thai sweet potato noodles
- Vegan taco pasta
- Healthy cauliflower cashew cream Alfredo sauce
- Vegan beet pasta sauce
This veggie-loaded easy mac and cheese recipe will hit the spot and then some. It’s just as delicious as the cheesy comfort food I craved when I was little.
I promise you, the kids won’t even notice a difference! You can feel so much better about feeding them this healthy macaroni and cheese recipe instead of the processed junk version.
Healthy and Easy Mac and Cheese Recipe Notes:
- Whole grain dijon mustard is my favorite but DO NOT use it for this recipe, make sure you use a regular dijon mustard so you won’t see the little flecks in the sauce. I ran out of my regular dijon and only had the whole grain on hand. The sauce tastes the same but the kiddos might notice the flecks of color.
- If you’re nut-free, you can substitute a 1/2 cup of drained and rinsed chickpeas or cannellini beans. For some reason, the color of the sauce will be more orange rather than yellow but if that bothers you, you can substitute unsweetened coconut milk (or any white nut milk) so the sauce will have a more yellow color like in the pictures.
- You don’t have to use gluten-free noodles, you can use any whole wheat, quinoa, rice– or whatever your favorite variety is.
- When you reheat the leftover (if there are any!) add a little bit of water or veggie broth to help loosen up the sauce.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp pink sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (If the sauce is too thick, add 1/4 cup additional broth until you reach the desired consistency)
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 package of gluten-free elbow noodles or regular whole wheat noodles
Soak cashews in water for one hour, drain and set aside.
Saute onions for 5 minutes in olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced potatoes, carrots and 2 cups of water. Season the water with a pinch of salt.
Bring to a simmer, reduce to medium-low, cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and the water is mostly absorbed. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.
Add the cooled vegetables, paprika, garlic powder, dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth and soaked cashews to the food processor. Blend on high until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Pour the sauce back into the pan and heat it up. Add the cooked noodles and stir to coat every noodle. Serve and enjoy!
If you make this easy macaroni and cheese recipe please share it on Instagram and tag @StaceyHomemaker so I can see your delicious creation!
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What’s your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe? Let me know in the comments!
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