Cheese is my son’s favorite food. And while I don’t think cheese is bad, in fact organic raw milk cheese from grass-fed cows is actually very good for you, I think it is best to eat a variety of foods and lots and lots of veggies. So I was becoming a bit concerned when my son wanted all of his food covered in cheese. I expressed this concern to one of my good friends from nutrition school, Katie Hussong (you can check out her beautiful website and blog here), who cheerfully suggested I try making vegan macaroni and cheese. I was more than a little intrigued and skeptical at the thought of making my son macaroni and cheese, his all-time favorite dish, out of a variety of ingredients none of which were cheese. “I don’t think this is going to work Katie”, I quickly responded. “Trust me” she said, “this tastes amazing!” and she sent me this link for Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese.
Because I promised Katie I would try it, and because I really wanted my son to eat a wider variety of food, I reluctantly headed toward the kitchen to make this dish. I was truly shocked when I put all of the ingredients into the blender and out came this smooth and creamy “cheese” sauce. I tasted it and was amazed not only by the fact that it was delicious, but also that it really tasted cheesy. I made some pasta and mixed it with the sauce and called my son for dinner. I was nervous but after one bite he LOVED it and gobbled up the whole bowl. And then asked for more. “This is so good mom! Do you have some of the sauce by itself?” “Well, um no”, I mixed all the sauce together with the pasta. According to my son, the sauce was so good by itself that he wanted some just for dipping his vegetables. What a great idea!
So building on my success, I incorporated a few changes and began making the “cheese” sauce alone to be used in many different ways. I got bold and upped the veggie content by adding more carrots and a yellow pepper, which has a sweet yet mild taste. Also, my version of the sauce is not vegan because I use grass-fed butter. If you are vegan, you can make this sauce by substituting a vegan butter such as Earth Balance.
Here are some health highlights of this “cheese” sauce. Grass-fed (or pasture) butter is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K2, as well as conjugated linoleum acid (CLA). Both omega-3 fatty acids and CLA are excellent for fighting inflammation and studies have shown that consuming CLA aids in weight loss and may help protect against cancer, heart disease and immune disorders. Although they may not be thought of as a super food due to their association with potato chips and french fries, potatoes are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C , a powerful antioxidant, niacin, potassium and vitamin B6, which is vital for renewing cells and regulation of your mood. And the dietary fiber in potatoes promotes healthy digestion and helps ward off colon cancer. In addition to the vegetables, this sauce also contains cashews. Cashews are an excellent source of vitamin K, which is indispensable to maintaining healthy bones, and copper, which is needed to breakdown the fat in your food and for proper brain function. They also provide a rich supply of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, their high antioxidant content helps protect us from heart disease and cancer, and the magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.
As an added bonus, this “cheese” sauce freezes really well. So when I make it I usually double the recipe and freeze half in a mason jar. That way, I always have some on hand for a quick and easy weeknight dinner that I know my son will love. I hope your kids like this sauce as much as my son did and it gets them eating more of their vegetables. Good luck and enjoy!
- 1 cup of red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and chopped
- ⅓ cup onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup of filtered water
- ⅓ cup of grass-fed butter
- ¼ cup of raw cashews
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- In a medium saucepan, add potatoes, carrots, onion, pepper, shallots and water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- In a blender, add butter, cashews, salt, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and spices.
- Blend on low to combine.
- Add the softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
- Add to 8 ounces of cooked pasta for a creamy and delicious macaroni and cheese.
- Use as a dipping sauce for raw or steamed vegetables.
- Great as a topping for baked white, red or sweet potatoes or as the sauce for scalloped potatoes.