A light, creamy, and veggie filled take on your classic mac & cheese that the family will love!
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages us to focus on a healthy dietary pattern and to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, dairy and oils. I have found it easier to adapt to the plant-based eating style with the increasing options and variety on the market today such as pastas made from chickpeas or lentils, vegan cheese made from tofu and making our traditional vegetables taste like our favorite meat options!
I try to include more plant-based meals into my diet with more fresh vegetables, fruits and meatless/dairy-free options due to the many health benefits of a plant-based diet!
Shiitake Mushrooms: Low calorie and rich in vitamins and minerals that may boost heart health.
We all know bacon is delicious and I believe it can have a place in anyone's diet. However, plant-based bacon options contain less saturated fat than traditional bacon which can reduce saturated fat intake and provide heart health benefits.
Chickpea Pasta: High in protein and fiber.
Vegan Mac & Cheese with Mushroom Bacon Bits
Makes 6 servings
1 - 8 ounce box of Banza elbow chickpea pasta, cooked following directions on package (or you can use your favorite plant-based pasta)
For Mushroom Bacon:
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lite maple syrup
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
For Vegan Cream Sauce:
1 small head cauliflower, washed and cut into pieces - florets
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional Toppings: vegan cheese, tomato, or parsley.
**Note: If you enjoy the bacon flavor and feel adventurous, add the strips of mushroom "bacon" to your mac & cheese for more flavor, crunch and fun!
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Combine mushroom, maple syrup, soy sauce, oil, paprika, salt and pepper, evenly coating the mushrooms.
Place mushrooms onto a prepared baking sheet, in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crispy. Set aside for 5 minutes as mushrooms will crisp up and harden.
While mushrooms bake, prepare vegan cream sauce. In a small pot, boil water. Add cauliflower florets and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until soft.
Add cooked cauliflower to a blender with almond milk, lemon juice, onion, garlic, nutritional yeast, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Add vegan cream sauce to cooked Banza pasta, evenly covering pasta. Set aside.
Remove mushrooms from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Chop up mushrooms into bits.
Sprinkle mushroom "bacon" bits on top of creamy pasta mixture and top with your other favorite toppings. Enjoy immediately!
Nutrition Facts per Serving: 340 calories, 5g fat, 364mg sodium, 41g CHO, 6g dietary fiber, 4g sugar, 35g protein