There is something about macaroni and cheese that just represents love and comfort. Maybe it is because of the memories we associate with it. Maybe it is because the silky, creamy sauce is simply soothing and reassuring. But whatever the reason, I can’t cut it out of my diet completely.
Typically, macaroni and cheese is filled with saturated fat from the large amounts of milk and cheese involved. Add to it the low nutritive value of white pasta and you have a rather unhealthful meal. Not to mention the fact that many folks get their mac n cheese fix from processed versions very high in salt, toxic non-food chemicals, dyes, and unnecessary and nutritionally questionable added thickeners.
Another problem with traditional mac n cheese recipes is that they are time consuming to make. There is typically a 2-step process of making the sauce and pasta, then baking the whole mix together in a casserole dish.
My version corrects a lot of these problems in the following way:
- The overall amount of milk and cheese is lower than in traditional recipes
- Peas are added for extra fiber and nutrition (if your family likes it, broccoli is also good)
- Cauliflower replaces much of the milk and cheese in the sauce and offers added vitamins, nutrients, and fiber
- The white pasta is replaced with lentil or bean pasta which contains many more nutrients, has more protein (11 g vs 7 g) and fiber (3 g vs 2 g), and has less carbohydrates (35 g vs 42g) than traditional pasta (I used Explore Cuisine Organic Red Lentil Penne)
- The added nutritional yeast adds vital vitamin B12, which is is a required nutrient but hard to get in meals without significant animal protein. Plus it adds a “cheesy” taste allowing for less added cheese overall.
- My version doesn’t require the final baking step and can be eaten right away. Once the cauliflower is cooked, the sauce mixes up quickly in the blender without the need to cook it on the stove. Easy, Peasy.
But the best part of this version is that it so creamy and delicious you won’t miss a thing. In fact, you might even like it better.
You have to try it to believe it!
- - 2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into florets
- - 1 cup cheese of choice, I prefer white cheddar for this recipe
- - ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- - 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- - 2 teaspoons nutrtional yeast
- - ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- - 2 teaspoons sea salt
- - 1 cup whole or reduced fat milk
- -2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
- - 2 8 ounce boxes gluten free lentil or other bean based pasta
- - Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Using a steamer insert, steam cauliflower until very soft. If you don’t have a steamer insert, you can boil and then drain the cauliflower. Drain and allow excess steam to evaporate. Place cauliflower in the bowl of a blender.
- To the cauliflower, add the cheeses, nutritional yeast, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until very smooth and silky. Stir in the peas so they get warm. Put lid on blender to keep sauce warm while the pasta cooks.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain. Return pasta to warm pan and pours sauce over pasta. Add peas and stir to coat well. Serve.
Nutritional yeast can be found in most health food stores.