Vegan Mac + Cheese With Lightly Sautéed Zucchini (Nutritional Yeast Free)
Hello plant-eaters! Happy Monday. It’s Week 3 of 2018! Does anyone else feel like we’re now living in the future? It cannot possibly be the year 2018…
My Week 2 was pretty eventful. You see, hubs was traveling for work and I was having one of those, down some gooey carbs and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory while scrolling through Facebook all night, kind of cravings. Like I said, eventful.
Instead of wasting my night away though, I decided I should learn to cook something new, and settled on vegan mac and cheese (and then put The Big Bang Theory on in the background of course).
Many of the vegan “cheese” recipes I’ve found use nutritional yeast to give the sauce that nice cheesy taste and texture. The dishes look so crave-worthy, but I’ve admittedly been afraid to dive into the world of nutritional yeast. Left over from my attempted Candida diet days is a serious fear of anything that feeds or contributes to yeast in the body. Intuitively, I thought putting nutritional yeast in my food had to be a sure fire way to brew more yeast in the gut. Turns out, I’ve concluded from my research that I was very wrong. But, I’ve decided nutritional yeast still is not for me. And here’s why. Livestrong describes the safety of nutritional yeast in the following way:
Nutritional yeast is the extracted contents from dead and deactivated species that cannot be used for leavening or fermenting and certainly cannot infect you. Yeast extracts do not contain any Candida species, which are the most common cause of pathogenic yeast infections in people.
Hmm, “extracted.” Dang it. That’s not going to work with my whole foods philosophy. Also, that dead species thing wasn’t super appealing, but I reasoned I probably eat dead species all the time. Nonetheless, so began my quest to make mac and cheese without nutritional yeast, and without cheese for that matter…
I tried a bunch of different recipes, smashed them together, and came up with something I was pretty darn happy with. And the nutritional yeast was not missed!
The base of the cheese sauce involves pumpkin puree, although I don’t think there’s anything pumpkiny about the way this tastes. Also, in this recipe, I’ve paired the noodles with some zucchini. Here’s what happened…I scooped a whole bunch of creamy carbs into my bowl and couldn’t do it. I needed something green! I looked in my fridge and the only green thing was zucchini, so there you have it. Divine inspiration! When switching to a vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based diet, I think it can be really easy to fall into a pretty carb heavy diet. While I think whole grains are a great part of a plant-based diet, I always try to lean heavier towards the vegetables. I prefer to think of a dish like this as comfort food, not the norm, so I wasn’t feeling quite right until the plate lit up with green veggies. Also, if you’re trying to heal your gut, you may want to note that I’ve personally found wheat to be an irritant. In my healing days, I kept wheat to a minimum, and even now, if I’m not feeling quite right, I’ll cut wheat out for a few days to recover. But if you’re feeling good, I say…have at it!
Are you a nutritional yeast expert? PLEASE comment below and educate me more on this! It’s a tough one!
Recipe loosely based on a great recipe from Kale Me Maybe.