As I've mentioned in previous posts, in the past I've deviated from a vegan diet due to cravings for animal protein. The more I learn about nutrition, the more apparent it's become to me that we are all unique and the most important thing is to listen to your own body while being mindful of nutrition. It's also important to not judge yourself when it comes to what you eat and instead be an observer of how your food makes you feel! Maybe you're a vegan for ethical purposes but find yourself having an occasional craving for animal products. Take a look at your diet and see if you're missing out on an important nutrient, like iron, protein, calcium or omega 3's and then see if eating more plant sources of those nutrients alleviates some of your cravings (in my experience, that piece of advice really helped!). Above all, always try your best, but know that "diet perfection" doesn't exist.
One thing that I've also realized is that sometimes eating the same things can get really repetitive and can also lead to cravings for things that you wouldn't normally eat. With this in mind, I decided to try my hand at making vegan macaroni and cheese because who doesn't love a serving of comfort food every now and then? This recipe is actually a combination of a few recipes gathered from Daiya brand's website and from a dish that my favorite health food store makes as one of their "hot lunch specials". I put my own spin on it by adding some vegan mock-meat sausage for added protein and a spicy taste, but feel free to omit that component if you're looking for a more classic mac and cheese taste.
Very Vegan Mac & Cheese (serves about 6-8)
- 16 oz. whole grain elbow macaroni (whole grains can be brown rice noodles or speciality gluten-free noodles if you're following a gluten free diet)
- One 16 oz. package of Daiya brand vegan cheddar style shreds
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2.5 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk
- ½ cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
- black pepper (I didn't measure, just sprinkle at your discretion)
- garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
- paprika (about ½ tsp)
- 2 Field Roast Italian vegan sausages (omit if you're following a GF diet)
- Breadcrumbs or oat bran (to use as a topping. Omit if you're following a GF diet)
- Boil water in a large pot (big enough to fit an entire 16 oz. package of macaroni)
- Once the water has come to a rolling boil, allow macaroni to cook until tender
- Remove the pot from the stove and drain the macaroni, set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan buttery spread on low heat.
- While the buttery spread melts, cut up the Field Roast vegan sausage into small pieces and cook in a separate saucepan on low heat until brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add the nutritional yeast and pepper to the vegan buttery spread saucepan.
- Add the almond milk to the above saucepan.
- Add the Daiya cheddar shreds to the above saucepan. Use a spoon to mix on low-medium heat.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Once the Daiya cheddar shreds have melted, turn off the heat.
- In a large oven-safe casserole dish, mix the drained macaroni and Field Roast vegan sausage. Add the vegan cheese mixture and use a spoon to make sure that the macaroni is evenly topped with vegan cheese.
- Top the mixture with breadcrumbs or oat bran.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!
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