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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mac and cheese. For one, my local grocery store just started carrying those Daiya boxes of mac and cheese that contain what I imagine is some sort of creamy sauce. I’ve never actually tried them, but they look so tasty, and are always pretty tempting. The weather is also starting to get a little cooler where I am, which always makes me want comfort food. So, this week, I decided to try my hand at a low carb vegan mac and cheese.
I decided to make my own vegan cheese sauce for this instead of using a ready made vegan cheese for a few main reasons:
- store-bought vegan cheese is crazy expensive
- store-bought vegan cheese very rarely tastes like real cheese, and when it does, it’s double the price
- most pre-packaged vegan cheese is crazy high in carbs, which doesn’t really work for us
- not every store even carries dairy free cheese, never mind a specific type
So, with this in mind, I thought I’d reference traditional cashew cheeses as inspiration, and go from there. Cashews are pretty high in carbs as well, so they didn’t necessarily seem like the best choice for this. Instead, I reached for the tried and true favorite: hemp seeds. Hemp seeds really bring creamy sauces to life – they blend up easily, are high in omega-3s, super low in carbs and don’t really impart any weird flavor to the overall dish, especially when cooked. Hemp seeds also contain an absurd amount of protein, making this a pretty well-rounded dinner.
I’m seriously so excited about how this recipe turned out! Not only is it delicious and filling, it’s also gluten free, soy free, nut free, dairy free, high in protein and fiber and pretty darn low in carbs. What more could you ask for?
Notes on Making Low Carb Vegan Mac and Cheese:
- I used shirataki macaroni for this, but there are plenty of fun shapes to go with.
- If you don’t have access to shirataki noodles, you could chop up 1-2 cups of cauliflower florets, roast them and use them as the noodle base instead.
- I actually stirred this in the oven a few times, just to make sure everything cooked evenly. I definitely recommend doing this (carefully)!
- I added broccoli to this for some veggie power, but you could add spinach if you prefer, or nothing at all!
- I sprinkled some chili powder on this before eating and was definitely pleased with this decision. I also recommend sprinkling on parsley.
Low Carb Vegan Mac and Cheese
For the Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup hulled hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup chopped red yellow or orange bell pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2-1 cup of water
For the Macaroni
- 1 package shirataki macaroni
- 1/4 of the above sauce
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- To make the sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth - about 2 minutes. You can add 1/2 cup of the water in at first and blend, then slowly add the rest until a queso-like consistency is achieved. You may not need all the water!
- Thoroughly drain and rinse the macaroni.
- Combine the noodles and sauce in a small baking dish, and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- You can also do this on the stove top! Basically, you'll just sit there, stirring the noodles and 1/4 of the batch of sauce together on medium low heat, until everything is thoroughly heated and there is no excess moisture (from the noodles or whatever veggies you decide to add).