This recipe is sponsored by Banza.

Fall is prime Mac & Cheese season. When we think “comfort food,” this gooey, cheesy classic is one of the first things to come to mind. Total stick-to-your-ribs fare. I get questions from clients all the time about healthier versions, and after some trial and error, this updated version of an old favorite came out a clear winner. If I can eat leftovers of something for four days without getting sick of it, that’s saying a lot!

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This recipe was created using Banza chickpea pasta shells. I love that it’s a high-protein, high-fiber pasta option that’s also gluten-free. It also holds it shape quite nicely, especially when compared to other gluten-free pastas. The company sent me some products to try, and I went for this one immediately. Mini shells might be my favorite pasta shape. I especially love them in soups and with any kind of hearty creamy sauce.

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Macaroni and cheese was kind of a no-brainer. Since I grew up eating the blue-box stuff, I associate macaroni and cheese with that dayglo orange color. True, I could add a boatload of turmeric to a cheese sauce to get the effect, but why not take advantage of all the nutrients, texture, and, yes, color in pumpkin? Because I didn’t have any milk in the house and didn’t want to go buy any, I decided to travel back in time to when I used to use tofu in smoothies. At age 26, my favorite pre-date “snack that might end up being dinner” was a big green smoothie made of frozen banana, spinach, and silken tofu. Tofu, as it turns out, also lends itself quite well to cheese sauce. It doesn’t have to be silken, either—regular firm tofu will do just fine.

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I like a little (or a lot of ) green in my mac & cheese. Even as a college student, I used to add thawed frozen broccoli to my Easy-Mac. Old habits die hard. In this case, that’s not a bad thing.

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All told, this whole meal comes together in less than a half-hour. This recipe makes enough for about 4 servings, but feel free to scale up or down as needed. Enjoy!

Vegan Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

For Vegan Cheese Sauce

  • 1 block tofu
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, paprika, turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste

For Mac & Cheese

  • 5 cups baby spinach, wilted
  • 1 lb frozen broccoli, thawed
  • 8 ounces pasta of choice
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Layer cheese sauce ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, boil water in a large saucepot. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package. Drain retain a little of the starchy pasta water if desired. Return pasta to pot.
  3. Too cheese sauce with pasta to coat well. Fold in vegetables.
  4. Serve hot. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.

What’s your go-to comfort food? 

Disclosure: This recipe is sponsored by Banza. Though I was not compensated for my time, I was provided with free samples. Opinions and recipe are my own. 

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