Tag Archives: vegan mac and cheese

GF Vegan Mac n’ Cheese & the 2nd Annual #MacSmack

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Gooey, creamy mac ‘n cheese goodness. You know, it’s funny how often people assume that mac n’ cheese is not on the vegan radar. But WHY? Vegans love mac n’ cheese. And we’ll line up for it. Like at an all vegan mac n’ cheese cook-off. Yeah, there’s one coming up in Baltimore on February 18. It’s the 2nd annual Vegan Mac N’ Cheese Smackdown, produced by Baltimore Vegan Drinks and PEP Foods as a fundraiser for Thrive Baltimore, the new all-vegan community center.

You may want to go ahead a buy a ticket now, cuz this thing is epic. Last year more than 1000 people showed up to partake in the vegan cheesy goodness!

2016 Smackdown

The 2016 Vegan Mac and Cheese Smackdown!

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Alas, we can’t throw our hats into the ring in 2017 because we’re helping with the event. But gosh… it would be so much fun to compete! One of these days. If anyone would like to compete FOR us, I’m going to put it out there. This is our latest vegan mac, made entirely gluten free too.

Anyhow, hope we see everyone on February 18. Can’t wait for all the amazing vegan mac and cheese!!

 

 

Gluten Free MacGF Vegan Mac N’ Cheese

1 16-oz bag gluten free pasta (we used Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta)

2 Tbs. olive oil (or Earth Balance or coconut oil)

3 to 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 cups shredded vegan cheddar-style cheese (we used Follow Your Heart)

1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (we used almond milk)

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 cup corn flakes (we used One Degree Veganic)

 

Preheat oven to 425.

Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and place back in cooking pot. Stir in one tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Place corn flakes in a zip top bag and crush into crumbs using your hand or a rolling pin. (This is really fun and a great way to blow off stress!)

While the pasta cooks, saute minced garlic in 1 tablespoon oil until just fragrant. Add to the bowl of a blender or food processor with white beans, vegan cheddar shreds, nutritional yeast, non-dairy ilk, Dijon mustard and turmeric. Puree to a thick liquid.

Pour cheesy-garlicky sauce onto cooked noodles and fold to coat all pasta. Turn cheesy pasta into an oven-safe casserole dish and sprinkle with crushed cornflakes and smoked paprika. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes until vegan cheesy sauce is melted and gooey. Serve hot.

 

Bite of Gluten Free Mac

 

 

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Getting Some Ink

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We love famous vegans. We’ve met a few over the years… Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Gene Baur, Dr. Neal Barnard, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. They’re kind of a big deal.

But maybe, just maybe, we can share in that spotlight for a minute. It’s our 15 seconds of shared fame.

See, we produce events for Baltimore Vegan Drinks. Back in February, we co-produced a Vegan Mac and Cheese Smackdown with the rock stars over at PEP Foods. We all agreed it would be a super fundraiser for PEP Foods and just a fun good time – who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Well, more than 1000 people came. Baltimore really showed up. It was amazing.

And then, the Washington Post used it as the lede for a huge article on vegan mac. DAMN! The story started on the front of the food section and jumped twice. It was a LOT of ink committed to vegan mac and cheese.

Vegan Mac ArticleIn addition to using quotes from Rissa (aka the Bohemian Girl), they also interviewed our friend Brenda from PEP Foods, as well as famed vegan author and Food Network winner, Chef Chloe Coscarelli in New York City, and the owners of Annie’s Organics. How did I land with all these folks? For real???

WashPostArticle2_lrAnyhow, check out the link to the article here. There are four vegan mac and cheese recipes, as well as the prose section by reporter Kristen Hartke. We love the article’s angle on vegan food, and plan to try all the mac recipes over the next few weeks.

Wonder how Isa Chandra or Gene Baur felt the first time they were quoted in a major international newspaper? Seeing how they’re both big vegan celebs now, I’m sure it’s just another day. Everyone has the FIRST time though… for us, this was the first time the Washington Post called to talk about vegan food. Here’s hoping they call again!

 

Veggie-Loaded Mac N Cheez

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Earlier this year there was a vegan mac-n-cheez throw down in Baltimore. No, Bobby Flay didn’t show up,  but he honestly would have had no chance with all the amazing vegan chefs in the house. We threw our hat into the ring (or should I say, our mac-n-cheez?); we made it several times to test the recipe. But we didn’t win. We didn’t end up last, either, which was nice.

The Bake-Off was hosted by The Baltimore Animal Rights Federation. About twenty cooks showed up with recipes as varied as gluten and soy free to those featuring sriarcha, Old Bay or mushroom-bacon. Our hosts appointed judges from various Baltimore vegan restaurants, and 3 prizes were awarded: first, last and people’s choice – which was done via voting ballots.  Because we are always game to eat way too much food, we both sampled every mac in the place. They were all good and I didn’t envy the judges. The recipes were so different, it was like comparing apples and asparagus.

We bake mac-n-cheez fairly often, but on most days, we rely on Daiya or Teese to make it happen. For this recipe, we decided to go whole-food and use as few processed ingredients as possible to challenge ourselves for the contest. Everyone knows how delish & gooey Daiya and Teese are; that’s too easy. We wanted to use more veggies, too, to up the nutrition content. After several tries, we were pretty happy with the recipe. We tested it out on vegans and non-vegans, and got good reviews from both. Even my Dad liked it – he went back for seconds!

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Still, we made a LOT of this recipe. And we discovered that the leftovers also made incredible sandwiches: just add a slice of chilled mac-n-cheez to two slices of bread and make like a grilled cheese. Isn’t it wonderful to find new ways to eat mac-n-cheez? 🙂

This recipe is more complicated than others we post, as it requires several advance steps and a few unusual ingredients. First, you will need to make the roasted garlic in advance, as well as soaking the cashews. We have posted a great method for roasting garlic, but if you forget, no biggie. Just use regular garlic – the roasted garlic does have a different taste and aroma, however, and your results will be sharper  and more “garlicky” with raw garlic. Still good, though. But the cashews need to be soaked to be soft enough to blend into a sauce. Ideally, you can soak them overnight or all day.

As for the unusual ingredients, you may not have worked before with ume plum vinegar or kuzu root starch. We were introduced to both during our stint on the macrobiotic diet, and once you meet these two, you’re going to love them. Ume plum vinegar is the pickling brine from making umeboshi plums with sea salt and red shiso. A tart, salty,  condiment with beneficial organic acids, ume plums are  ‘the king of alkaline foods’, and highly valued as a digestive aid in macrobiotics.

Kuzu root starch is a thickener that dissolves in cold liquid and has no perceptible taste. It is very low in calories and contains no fat. Kuzu binds more strongly than arrowroot. Unlike corn and potato starches (industrially processed) kuzu is handcrafted and natural. The kuzu Pueraia lobata plant is a prolific, tough, fibrous vine with heart-shaped leaves used as a food in China for more than 2,000 years. Its roots are among the largest in the world, ranging in length from three to seven feet and weighing between 200 to over 400 pounds.  In traditional Oriental medicine kuzu is valued as a digestive aid, to strengthen vitality, and fortify the body in cold weather. Recent studies have shown that Kuzu may reduce the cravings for alcohol and aid in recovery from alcohol addiction.

You can find these two unique ingredients at any Maryland-area  Whole Foods or Roots Markets, as well as online – try Amazon. We always buy Eden Foods brand. Once you try them, you’re going to love ume plum vinegar (wonderful splashed over steamed greens) and kuzu root starch (try it in apple pie as a thickener!).

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Veggie-Loaded Mac N Cheez

5 cloves roasted garlic, peeled (see instructions here to make in adavance or just use regular fresh garlic)

1 cup cashews, soaked in 2 cups of water for 8 to 24 hours

2 Tbl. kuzu root powder, dissolved in 1/3 cup cool water (we used Eden Foods brand)

1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

4 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

16 oz. box of macaroni elbows (or pasta of choice – gluten free will work)

1 Tbl. olive oil

pinch salt

3 tsp. dijon mustard

2 1/3 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk ( we used Silk plain)

3 Tbl. white miso (we used Westbrae)

1 Tbl. Braggs Liquid Aminos

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. ume plum vinegar (we used Eden Foods brand)

3 tsp. vegan Worchestershire sauce (we used Annie’s)

1 tsp. smoked salt (use regular if you don’t have smoked salt)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 Tbl. smoked paprika

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (gluten free breadcrumbs will work)

Before you begin, make sure you have roasted your garlic and pre-soaked your cashews. Even if you decide to skip the roasting of the garlic (will slightly alter the flavor), the cashews need to be soft before you begin to make a smooth sauce.

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a casserole dish with olive oil or coat with non-stick spray of choice.

Start by adding kuzu to cool water and stirring it up.  Next, add your chopped cauliflower and carrots to a large pot and boil until just soft, about 10-12 minutes. Use a fork to test, as they don’t need to be mushy, just tender. Allow to cool for a few minutes in a strainer.

Next, cook pasta with oilve oil and pinch of salt according to directions. When done, strain and set aside.

Using a food processor or high-powered blender, puree soaked and strained cashews with dissolved kuzu in water, peeled & roasted garlic cloves, dijon mustard, almond milk, miso, Braggs Liquid Aminos, white pepper, ume plum vinegar, vegan Worchestershire, smoked salt and nutritional yeast. Resulting sauce should be very  thin. Add cooked cauliflower/carrots 1/3 batch at a time to the cheezy sauce and puree until smooth and creamy.

When all veggies are mixed in, combine cooked pasta and cheezy sauce until all the noodles are coated. (You can mix it in the casserole dish!) Top with sprinkles of panko bread crumbs and smoked paprika. Bake, covered, at 400 for 35-40  minutes until bubbly. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes to toast the top. Allow to cool on counter about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Optional: If you like things spicy, trying adding cayenne pepper to the sauce. To amp up the veggies in this recipe, try topping with fine-chopped broccoli or sliced tomatoes when you add the breadcrumbs and paprika.

A special thanks, before we sign off, to The Baltimore Animal Rights Federation for inspiring us to get in the kitchen and create this tasty recipe! Oh, and Bobby Flay, if you’re out there – we’re ready for the vegan mac-n-cheez throw down!