Cheesy Vegan Mac & Healthy Leftovers

One of the misconceptions that persists about vegans is that we are SUPER healthy since all we can eat are fruits and vegetables. First of all, I WISH!!! I have worked very hard to lose weight and get healthier but more importantly to stay healthy, but I am a human being with flaws, shortcomings and cravings.

Okay, since I cut out meat and dairy and most sugar I don’t have ‘cravings’ per se but there are times I want something that isn’t totally healthy. Or healthy…at all.

Enter mac & cheese.

Mac & cheese is something we can all relate to whether its memories of eating the crappy box variety as a kid or the fancy, multi-cheese versions served at nice restaurants. In my pre-vegan days I was a mac & cheese-a-holic, researching different types of cheese and their fat properties to see which combination would produce the gooey-est mac in town. Once I said au revoir to dairy, I learned–pretty easily–to live without cheese. Until my husband went all mad scientist in the kitchen this weekend.

This dish will turn the famous vegan stereotype on his head because even though it is still miles better on calories and fat than animal cheese versions, it ain’t pretty.

What he used:

Elbow Mac (white b/c we could find whole wheat)
Vegan pizza cheese (extra melty)
Vegan cream cheese (natural or herb works)
Nutritional yeast
Tofu in salty water (saramura is what they call it in Romania)
Plant butter
Almond milk (unsweetened)

Since I wasn’t in the kitchen but enjoying a cocktail as I finished writing another chapter in my upcoming romance novel, all I can say is that he started with a vegan bechamel sauce and slowly added the cheese and sour cream until it was thick and gooey and ready for the oven. Baked about 20-35 minutes until bubbly & crisp.

Side note: Vegan cheese doesn’t really do bubbly or crisp so do a feel test. If some of the pasta are crispy, it’s ready to come out.

This was a huge calorie bomb, about 800 calories per serving (8 servings total in a 9×13 baking dish) so we decided to let the Mac stand on its own for dinner.

The next day however, we took a few servings to my in-laws because we are on a never ending quest to add healthier food to their diets and of course, more plant based foods. They LOVED it and my mother-in-law refused to believe there wasn’t “real” cheese in it which I considered a total win.

But this brings me to the next topic. Leftovers.

I’m not one to turn my nose up at leftovers (mostly) but I’m not used to them since its just me and the husband, we usually make enough for each of us to have a serving and call it a day. It’s a tool we’ve developed to make sure we’re not constantly overeating and now that we’re both on plant based diets, it makes weight loss super easy.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how on earth could you do anything to improve this ooey-gooey cheesy vegan mac & cheese?

Easy, just add greens!

Kalettes are a cute little hybrid between Brussels sprouts (which I love) and kale (which I do not love).

They were DELICIOUS.

This was a quick & easy way to turn leftovers into a healthier lunch. I sauteed onion & garlic (no oil, just water) and then added the kalettes until they were soft and slightly wilted, then I added some lemon juice to reduce the dark bitterness of the kale. The lemon REALLY helps so if you’re not a fan of one or both of these dark leafy greens, trust me and add it.

It was delicious and easy, and did I mention delicious?

This is a perfect meal to make when you’re in the mood for something that isn’t totally healthy because you can justify it by promising to make something super healthy to go with it for tomorrow’s lunch.

Whatcha think?

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