Dairy-Free Macaroni and “Cheese”

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and many others add a luscious creamy taste to your meals. However, these products are also pack a hefty amount of calories, not to mention that it may also increase cancer risk.

Contrary to popular belief, dairy does not actually reduce fractures or promote healthier bones. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, some studies revealed that the calcium content in dairy actually do not contribute to bone health. Aside from that, calcium may also increase the risk of prostate cancer in men by up to 50 percent.

Despite this disappointing revelation, there is still a way to enjoy a healthy serving of one of our favorite snack-time choices. Presenting, the recipe for a dairy-free macaroni and “cheese.” Take note that the cheese would be replaced by pumpkin puree in this vegan-style mac ‘n cheese.

• 1 pound 100% whole grain penne
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 cup cashews
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• ¾ tablespoon mustard powder
• 1 ½ chopped fresh thyme
• ¾ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• 3 cups canned pumpkin (from 2 cans)
• 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1. Soak cashews in a small bowl with water and cover for at least 4 hours.

2. To cook the pasta, follow the instructions in the packaging until al dente. Then preheat oven to about 350°F.

3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium to high heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes until it turns light brown. Then, add the garlic, thyme and sage and cook for about 60 seconds with constant stirring. After removing it from the heat, blend the drained cashews, pumpkin, mustard, nutrition yeast and the sautéd onion using the blender until smooth. Add pepper and salt to taste. This is the “cheese” mixture.

4. Mix the pasta with the “cheese” mixture until it is evenly coated. Spread it evenly in a large baking dish that was lined with a little bit of oil. Bake this for 20 to 25 minutes until the top tunrs lightly brown.

5. In a smaller bowl, mix the panko, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Italian seasoning and salt to taste. Sprinkle this onto the macaroni.

6. Place the macaroni underneath the broiler and cook until brown for about 60 seconds. Do not burn it.

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