Part One of my Healthy Junk Food for Weight Loss Series. Why is boxed Mac & Cheese so bad for us? Well, for starters it is doing you no favor as you try to lose weight. Traditional mac & cheese is high in saturated fats and sodium due to the amount of butter, cheese and milk it contains, which makes it a relatively unhealthy dish. This means it is also likely to be very calorific as fats are calorie dense.
But of even more concern...boxed mac & cheese is high in phthalates because of plastic involved in processing, in addition to the high fat content. Phthalates are definitely a cause for concern, especially for infants and expecting females, but threshold doses aren’t known. It’s surprisingly easy to get high doses of phthalates from food, especially in the US.
Enter this delicious Elevated Mac & Cheese! The perfect sub when you want traditional mac & cheese but need a healthier and smarter choice. Having this on occasion will not derail your weight loss and health efforts, and can save you from going down a slippery slope of self sabotage.
ELEVATED MAC & CHEESE
✔️ 15 Minutes ✔️ Weight Loss Friendly ✔️ Serves 4
• 12 ounces whole grain or gluten free pasta, I used brown rice penne
• 3/4 cups raw cashews, soaked and drained
• 2 tablespoons miso paste, white miso or chickpea miso
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, for color
• 1/4 teaspoon salt, less or more to taste
• 1/2 cup hot water, add more by the tablespoon to reach your desired consistency
• 1/4 cup vegetable broth, for water sautéing
• 1 large shallot, thinly sliced, see note
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/2 cup frozen peas
• 2 cups fresh tender greens of choice, I used baby Swiss chard and arugula, but spinach or baby kale would work too
• Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
Vegan Parmesan, optional:
• 1/4 cup almond flour
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• Salt to taste
1. Make the vegan Parmesan if desired, by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl, then set aside. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Everything else will come together while the pasta cooks.
2. Add all the cheese sauce ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes until steamy and creamy. Set aside.
3. Heat up a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the broth for sautéing, then the shallot and garlic. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes. Then add the peas and continue to cook 2 more minutes. Add in the greens, add a few tablespoons more broth if needed. Stir to combine, then turn off the heat and cover with lid to allow the greens to wilt for 2 to 5 minutes.
4. Drain the pasta and rinse with hot water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving dish and combine with your desired amount of cheese sauce. Arrange the greens on top. Season with vegan parmesan, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.
NOTE: As a general rule of thumb, “1 shallot” refers to one shallot bulb, regardless of how many cloves are inside. The vegan parmesan will store in a glass jar with lid for up to 3 months in the fridge.
Watch the video version here:
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