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 and gluten-free.
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.
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 of 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!
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.
More Creamy Vegan Recipes You’ll Love!
If you make this easy macaroni and cheese recipe please share it on Instagram and tag @StaceyHomemaker so I can see your delicious creation!
Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup raw cashews,
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (If the sauce is too thick, add 1/4 cup additional broth until you reach the desired consistency)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 package of gluten-free elbow noodles (or regular whole wheat noodles)
- Saute the onions for 5 minutes in olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced potatoes, carrots, cashews, and 2 cups of water. Season the water with a pinch of salt.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and let it 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 it cool. (I try not to add hot vegetables to the blender, it's dangerous!)
- Add the cooled vegetables, paprika, garlic powder, dijon mustard, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, salt, and pepper 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 macaroni noodles and stir to coat every noodle. Serve and enjoy!
- If you're nut-free, you can substitute a 1/2 cup of drained and rinsed chickpeas or cannellini beans for the cashews.
- 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.