• Best Ever Macaroni Cheese

by Buffy Ellen 0 Comments

While I'm not 100% sure if your mama actually did make you Mac n Cheese, if she did, I'm willing to take a wager that this version would come out on top. I mean, creamy, comforting, cheesy, goodness, that at the same time keeps all your trillions of cells (and your in-house nutritionist) jumping with joy? I've always been a mad mac 'n' cheese fiend, and have tried many different healthified versions over the years. Every time though, this little number keeps coming back as #1.

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

Yes, this Best Ever Macaroni Cheese is...

  • Done in under 30 minutes,
  • Entirely dairy and gluten free,
  • Made with only whole food ingredients (no weird sauces or processed pastas here),
  • Made with 50% veges. YES 50% (don't tell the kids/hubby/partner/flatties), and
  • Made light, fluffy and creamy all at the same time, thanks to a secret ingredient in the sauce.

I didn't even get to mention the crunchy topping. Move over breadcrumbs and parmesan!

I'm fairly sure that you are going to love this one, and your mama too. Grab yourself some ingredients, give it a whirl, and in a few short minutes you'll have yourself this delicious one pan wonder. Just ask the fam to bring the salad.

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

So, what makes me think this mac 'n' cheese might be better than your mum's? I know it's an audacious claim, so to back it up I've got a few reasons why...

First up – it’s vegan. That means no animal products, no milk, no cheese, no butter, and certainly no sneaky bacon bits floating around. But don’t fret, we are going to replace all that flavour with so much more, and all made from 100% plant-based whole food ingredients. Are you excited yet? I am. Let’s dig in!

Second claim to fame is it's gluten free. I know gluten free is all the rage right now, and whilst I don’t recommend a gluten free diet as a stand alone concept (the vast majority of purportedly ‘gluten free’ products out there are pretty horrific from a nutritional perspective), I am all for you reducing your refined white flour intake and replacing it with a selection of more whole food whole grain alternatives. By whole grain I mean all three layers of the grain – endosperm, germ and bran. In simple terms, just look out for whole grain, whole wheat, or brown when you’re choosing your pastas. In this recipe I’ve used these delightful red rice macaroni elbows here. The red rice has just the right amount of density to feel grounded, whilst still retaining the light fluffiness of a traditional white wheat pasta. Divine.

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

Thirdly, and continuing on our gluten free theme – the topping. Oh my – sunflower seeds encased in a cheesy sprinkle of nutritional yeast, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, which bakes up to be gloriously golden and crunchy on top. You might just want to make double of the topping it’s so good. So no need for gluten free breadcrumbs or otherwise here.

Finally, and most excitingly – it’s jam packed with vegetables and light on the calorie scale. Whilst you might have tried a dairy free/vegan macaroni cheese before, it no doubt will have been made with white wheat pasta drenched in a rich cashew sauce. Delicious no doubt, but fairly limited in terms of antioxidant, phytonutrient, flavonoid and polyphenol vegetable content. And also pretty heavy on the waistline. This version is a vegetable-loving-revelation in terms of the cheesey sauce ingredient list. Hint - there's a secret vege ingredient in there - read on my friend do!

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

Before today's find, I had previously made a number of vegan mac n cheeses, all using a cashew based sauce. I had also made a number of cauliflower cheese bakes using a similar method – both being recreations of two childhood favourites of mine. It was only recently that I thought, hang on, what if instead of the traditional highly cashew-rich sauce, I combine the two recipes, but blend up the cauliflower to create the sauce itself. Oh my, was that a good idea! The result is a creamy cheesy sauce that is oh so flavoursome but super light and fluffy at the same time. There will certainly be no feelings of heaviness after this meal. In fact with two large onions, half a large cauliflower, and 2 packed cups of parsley, the finished dish is almost 50% vegetables. Now that’s a positive for both the kids and adults alike. Mila wouldn’t give me her bowl back then proceeded to steal half the portion off my plate too – that means we’re onto a winner!

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

Cauliflower Takes the Cream
Some quick nutritional notes on cauliflower while we’re at it. Not only is it a super versatile ingredient in your plant-based pantry, being able to go from raw salads (like my Pomegranate Cauliflower Couscous here), to a creamy hearty mash (in my Italian Meatballs here), to today’s brilliant creamy pasta sauce, it also contains a whopping 52mg of vitamin C. That’s over 115% of your recommended daily intake (both ladies and gents). Imagine that – a single cup of cauli and all your vitamin C requirements done! No oranges needed. Research also shows that the vitamin C content in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, is almost all retained when lightly steamed as I've done in this recipe. That’s in contrast to boiling or microwaving, where up to 30-40% of the vit C can be lost.

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

Back onto that sauce – the white pepper gives it just the right amount of kick, without taking away from the core flavours of a traditional macaroni cheese, while the mustard, nutritional yeast and sea salt round everything out to give you a classic cheesy yet refined and elegant flavour. Mila even loved it in this original peppery form, so if you’ve got little ones, no need to modify the recipe there.

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

That’s it. Go do it. You know you want to. All your mac n cheese cravings to be met in a single hearty pan. Oh did I mention? Only 12 ingredients and it takes a mere 25 minutes to make. Under my self-imposed 30 minute maximum for a mid week dinner, which I know you’ll appreciate after your busy days too.

I would absolutely love you to give this glorious Macaroni Cheese a go, and would love to hear how you go. Leave me a comment below or post a pic on Instagram and tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics. I could eat this dish for days on end, so can't wait to hear what you think too!

That's it, signing off for this week. To the weekend, and our good friends Mac and Cheese.

x Buffy-Ellen

PS If you like the look of this recipe, pin it on Pinterest, share it on Facebook or Twitter, or post it to Instagram. And if you're not already subscribed to my weekly recipe emails, make sure you do that here!

Best Ever Macaroni Cheese

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

VeganVegetarianDairy FreeGluten FreeWheat FreeSugar FreeSoy FreeContains Organic IngredientsCruelty Free

25 mins
Serves 6

Make with

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Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible

Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese 
340g pasta*
1/2 large cauliflower, including stalk (approx. 420g) + 2c pasta/cauli cooking water
2 large onions (diced)
6 cloves garlic (sliced)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 c cashews
1/2 c nutritional yeast 
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 c fresh parsley (packed)

1 c sunflower seeds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon 

* I used these delicious red rice macaroni elbows here, but a quinoa pasta (like these), spelt penne (here), brown rice penne (here) or classic wholemeal tubular pasta would also work brilliantly.

How to
  1. Boil the jug with water and preheat the oven on fan bake at 200°C (390°F), then chop your cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Put the pasta in a pot and cover with boiling water, then place the cauli on top in a steamer attachment (if you have one). Cook both for 5-7 minutes. If you don't have a steamer you can cook the cauli in a separate pot with 1/2 cup of extra boiling water.
  3. While these steam, heat the oil in a large flat pan (oven-proof if possible), and saute the onion and garlic for five minutes until light brown and caramelised.
  4. Blend all the topping ingredients in a blender until they form a crumb but still with some texture - set aside.
  5. Drain the pasta and cauliflower reserving 2 cups of cooking water. Pour the pasta into the pan with the onions while still on a low heat.
  6. Meanwhile, put the cauli in your blender with the 2 cups of cooking water and all remaining sauce ingredients (cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard, pepper and salt) except parsley. Blend until super creamy then pour into your pasta pan, adding the parsley, and stir while still on low for 2 minutes until everything heats through and the sauce begins to thicken.
  7. Pour over the sunflower seed topping, then bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden and crunchy on top.
  8. Serve with a simple garden salad and get in quick if you want any chance of seconds!
  • Use an oven proof pan, that way you can transfer straight from the hob to the oven to bake it off at the end.
  • Make sure you use all your cauli water if cooking separately - it's packed full of nutrients and we don't want to lose those.
  • Check your pasta cooking time - mine were 5-7 minutes, but if they need longer add your cauli halfway through as needed.
  • A cup of frozen peas would also work perfectly in this if you're a fan of the greenies. Yes peas and mac and cheese is amazing!
  • This dish is so delicious the next day. I simply let it cool and placed it in the fridge with the pan lid on until the next day, then reheated in the same pan.
  • A note of caution - you are going to want to make this recipe every night for dinner, so buy extra ingredients!

Best Ever Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese - 12 ingredients and only 20 minutes #healthy #plantbased #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree #recipe #easy #vegetablepacked #family #pasta #begoodorganics

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Best Ever Macaroni Cheese - Be Good Organics

Buffy Ellen
Buffy Ellen


Buffy is the founder of Be Good Organics, and loves creating delicious yet simple plant-based whole foods recipes. Buffy also oversees our Be Good Organics online store, full of plant based goodies that she personally uses and loves. Sign up for our newsletter below to be the first to receive her weekly recipes.

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