This is the super easy vegan mac and “cheese” you’ve been looking for. Like, seriously. It is essentially this recipe with a few tweaks.
Serves 1 or 2 or 3 or 4, I don’t know, how hungry are you?
1/2 box elbow macaroni
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 c. plain non-dairy milk
1/2 c. nutritional yeast
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
1. Cook pasta according to box directions. When finished, add vegan butter and toss. Place pasta in a saucepan but don’t heat it yet.
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender.
3. Pour onto pasta, stir gently on medium-high heat until thickened. Add your peas here if you want them.
In the original recipe, she has you bake the mac and ‘cheese’ with breadcrumbs on top, but that was too fancy for me tonight.
This is what it looks like before you add a bunch of ketchup and sriracha, which I would recommend. This is half the recipe:
SO GOOD. SO EASY.
In my last lengthy text post, I gave my tips for converting to a vegan diet. Number one was learn how to cook- so here’s some help with that! If you feel intimidated in the kitchen, you’re not alone. Cooking is a learned skill, and you just need some practice! Personally, I have always loved to cook- I used to go to the library with my mom as a kid and pick out cookbooks! Anyway, learning to cook is super rewarding, at any age.
1. The art of the meal plan. This is a CRUCIAL part of cooking! Unless you’re the type who doesn’t mind a trip to the grocery store every time you want to make something, you need to plan ahead. Decide what type of things you want to eat that week, and try to find things with crossover ingredients. For example, veggie burritos, stir fries, and curries have almost identical base ingredients (peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes, etc). Find a few recipes with similar ingredients, and make your meal plan from there.
2. Serves how many? If you are cooking for one (or two), you’ll need to check how many the recipe serves. If you make a big pan of mac and “cheese” or another casserole, you’re going to have a lot of leftovers! Personally, I am not a big fan of leftovers- I rarely want to eat the same thing more than once a week. If you don’t mind them, or need them for convenience, go for it- but if not, half your recipe (and watch your baking/cooking time- less food means less time to cook!) Likewise, if you’re cooking for a big party, and the recipe only serves 4, double it!
3. Read the ENTIRE recipe before you start. Seriously. You don’t want to get to the end and see “simmer for two hours” or “marinate overnight.” Read ahead! Save yourself some trouble!
4. Prep ahead of time. I don’t always do this, but if you’re new in the kitchen, it will be extremely beneficial for you to go ahead and measure out all of your ingredients and prep them before you ever turn on the heat. Chop your veggies, measure your liquids, get it all ready to go, cooking show style. THEN turn on the stove, and follow your recipe. This will keep you from burning your onions while you’re chopping the carrots… or whatever.
5. Be patient. Not every recipe is 5 minutes or less. However, MANY of them are 30 minutes or less. Think ahead, and begin cooking before you’re starving. Otherwise you’ll give in to the microwave or take out place once again!
6. Time your dishes. Before you start cooking, think about which dishes are going to take the longest. Generally you want to start rice and pasta way before you ever make the sauce, because boiling water takes a million years (approximately). I hate when one thing is done and another thing isn’t, and then half your food is cold. This is where reading your recipe through to the end comes in- decide what order you need to start your dishes. And don’t be afraid of cooking more than one thing at once, it’s not as labor-intensive as it seems.
7. Start small, and then go big! If you can barely make toast, don’t try to make the fanciest thing you find right away. Start with stir fries, scrambles, curries, and soups- these are pretty foolproof. You pretty much just throw all your ingredients in a pan or pot and season the hell out of it, and then it’s done! As you get more comfortable with different techniques and recipes, branch out.
8. Don’t waste. If your past cooking attempts resulted in a refrigerator of rotting produce, you’re not alone. But this is pretty wasteful, and no doubt expensive! If this sounds like you, please walk directly to your local grocer’s frozen food section. I always thought frozen produce was somehow less healthy for you than fresh, but they freeze it immediately after picking, so it retains a lot of nutrients. And it NEVER (well, almost never) goes bad. I always have frozen peas and carrots for pilafs or fried rices, a bag of stir fry veggies for stir fries or curries, a bag of peppers and onions for burritos or tacos, hash browns, and frozen fruit for smoothies!
9. Use the magic of the Internet. Want to learn how to press and marinate tofu? Unsure of what an ingredient is or where to get it? Do you have no idea what julienne means? GOOGLE IT, FOOL! Or check out this awesome food dictionary here.
10. Just try, man. You won’t get any better at cooking by staring at your stove. You gotta practice. This is a life-long skill, y’all, and knowing how to feed yourself is part of being an adult. And as a vegan especially, you won’t be satisfied or energized if you continually feed your body with microwaved nonsense.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
I’ve had a few conversations recently where people have asked me how to go about switching to a vegan diet. I have also seen several requests inquiring the same on the vegan tag. Though I’m sure many of you who will find this through the tag are already vegan and don’t need my help, I wanted to write this post anyway!
These are my six commandments for going vegan, or basically a crash course in changing your diet.
1. Thou shall learn to cook. This is often the hardest thing for people who want to go vegan. It is nearly impossible to fully enjoy your veganism if you only eat frozen veggie burgers or “chicken” nuggets. You’ll feel deprived and unhealthy, and you’re more likely to go back to meat and/or dairy. If you can barely make toast, get the chef in your life (we all have one) to teach you how to boil some water and go from there. Buy a cookbook (I love Vegan on the Cheap for easy recipes) and Google any techniques or ingredients you don’t understand. I hate when people say, “I can’t cook!” No, silly, you just haven’t learned how yet. This is especially important if you still live with your parents. They may not want to change their entire cooking style for you. Be willing to cook for yourself.
2. Thou shall get enough protein. For long-time vegans, the protein-deprived vegan is a frustrating stereotype. But for newbies, it genuinely does present a danger. Many new vegans and vegetarians give up meat, dairy and eggs, and pick up carbs to fill their newfound hunger. This is a mistake- you’ll gain weight and feel sluggish. I generally recommend that during the first 2 weeks or so of a vegan diet, you should try to have a protein source at every single meal. There are two reasons for this: one, you sure won’t be protein deficient. And two, you’ll force yourself to find as many vegan protein sources possible. When you’ve been vegan a little longer, you can listen to your body and decide when you need to eat protein and when you don’t (a bowl of fruit for breakfast, perhaps), but in the beginning, make sure you’re not filling up on carbs in place of protein.
3. Thou shall read labels. There are some things you know aren’t vegan. And then there are others you may be unsure about. Always read labels, and Google is your new best friend.
4. Thou shall call ahead. Think if you go vegan, you’ll never be able to go out with your friends to dinner again? Wrong! Some places may be off the list, but chances are, there’s a few “safe” places you can dine. Don’t be afraid to call ahead or ask your server what they have available for you. Some of my favorite places with (good) vegan options are: Blue Coast Burritos, Moes, Chipotle (I like burritos, okay?), Pei Wei, Red Robin, Which Wich, Subway, Ghengis Grill, any Mexican restaurant (hold the cheese and sour cream), Indian restaurants, Taco Bell, Mellow Mushroom, and even Papa Johns (hold the cheese- but Garlic Sauce IS vegan!).
5. Thou shall watch thine B6, B12, and Omega Fatty Acids. These are some nutrients that are more challenging to get without animal products. B vitamins are linked to cognitive abilities, so you definitely don’t want to be deficient here! I personally take a supplement, but study up and see what natural sources you can find, if that’s your kind of thing.
6. Thou shall not beat thine own self up over slip-ups or mistakes. No one, no matter what they try to tell you, is a perfect vegan. That person does not exist. We all partake, from time to time, in practices that contribute to animal cruelty. Sometimes it’s on accident- a misread or mislabeled package, an order gone wrong, etc. Sometimes it’s on purpose- continuing to use a hair product you know tests on animals, caving and eating something blatantly not vegan. These things happen, and you will do no good to yourself or the animals by beating yourself up over it. When (not if) these things happen to you, use them as a learning tool. How can you avoid this from happening next time? Additionally, if you are prone to disordered eating, do not let the restrictive nature of veganism push you over the edge. Veganism is all about preventing animal cruelty- and you are an animal. Make sure you treat yourself properly. For me personally, veganism helped calm my obsessive relationship with food by removing a lot of the guilt I associated with food and eating, but every one is different. Take care of yourself.
I hope this is helpful for anyone looking to change their diet! Let me know if I left anything out or if you have any questions. :)