Creamy Butternut Squash Mac N’ (no) Cheese (Gluten-free + Dairy-free)
So I already had another post lined up to send out this week (all about healthy recipe hacks to supercharge your new year — stay tuned on that one).
But then so many of you requested the recipe for my Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese after I posted a pic on instagram — and here we are.
Truth be told there’s a lot of things I love about this Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese —
— How it’s ultra gooey and cheesy tasting without actually using cheese (which many of us tend to not digest so well, especially if you have a gut issue or imbalance)
— How warm, cozy, comforting, filling and satiating just one bowl is
— How the sauce manages to sneak in a ton of fiber-rich veggies (which only enhances the color + flavor)
— How much the MLH (Meat-Loving Hubby) loves it (which tells me other people besides me will actually like it too :))
— How good I still feel after I eat it
But perhaps the thing I love most about this dish is it’s such an amazing reminder we don’t have to deprive ourselves of the food we love in order to “eat healthy.” There are SO many ways to enjoy delicious, flavorful, exciting food and feel good while doing it (physically and emotionally).
The trick is to get creative with ways to sneak in nutrients (like butternut squash in the sauce), upgrade ingredients (like swapping fiber + protein-rich red lentil pasta for white) and make it fuel-friendly w/ a blood-sugar-balancing combo of protein (lentil pasta), fat (cashews + grass-fed ghee) and fiber (squash + lentil pasta).
So the next time you’re craving a hearty bowl of (insert comfort food here) try experimenting with a few ways you can up the feel-good factor without sacrificing flavor. Or just make the recipe below — you just might never go back to that blue box again.
Creamy Butternut Squash Mac N' (no) Cheese
A healthy, veggie-loaded twist on a classic, comforting dish that tastes decadent, creamy + cheesy -- without any actual cheese.
For the sauce:
- 1 small (3 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (or approximately 2-3 cups)
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup cashews, soaked 2-4 hours
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast (gives it the cheesy flavor, do not skip)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ -1 tsp liquid smoke (depends on how smoky you like)
- 1-2 tbsp hot or Sriracha sauce (depends on how spicy you like it)
For the dish:
- 1 (450g) package gluten-free pasta (I love Tolerant Foods Red Lentil Pasta which only contains 1 ingredient (red lentils) and is rich in both protein + fiber)
- 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
- avocado oil, salt + pepper to coat the squash
- Optional -- 1 tbsp grass-fed ghee or butter to toss noodles and sauce with
- Optional -- for an even cheesier taste, try sprinkling in a clean, non-dairy cheese brand like Parmela Creamery's Cultured Cashew Cheddar Cheese
- Add cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight or minimum 2-4 hours, until soft and plump. Drain and rinse before use.
- Preheat oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out chopped butternut squash on sheet and drizzle with avocado oil, salt + pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once half way through until squash is fork tender. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before adding to sauce.
- Add the sauce ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Cook pasta according to package directions (I boil Tolerant Foods Red Lentil Pasta for 10 minutes).
- Add the drained and cooked pasta back into the pot. Pour on the sauce, toss in the chopped spinach and stir to combine (add in any extra dairy-free cheese or grass-fed ghee if you want here to). Cook over medium until heated throughout and serve immediately.
- If you can manage to save any this dish makes great leftovers 🙂