Mac Attack Series | Not So Basic Mac

February 5, 2018 , In: Eat, Recipes , With: No Comments

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In the wintertime I like macaroni and cheese.”
-Jami Attenberg

I’m with Jami, but I also like it in spring. And summer. And fall… Ok, I just like Mac n cheese!

7 years ago I was diagnosed with a BRAND NEW… allergy. To dairy. (WOMP!) But I still craved Mac n cheese! I started trying lots of vegan Mac n cheese recipes but they were awful!! The flavor was off. “Cheese” was slimy, and left an awful filmy coating in my mouth… There was a long road ahead of me.

That’s Not Cheese!

I stumbled on a recipe about a year later that called for no vegan cheese substitute, instead, using veggies and nuts. I thought it was nuts! Wish I could remember the source, but after 6 years and 3 moves later… I couldn’t even pick it out of a 2 source lineup.

I’ve messed with the recipe over the last few years to really achieve what I (and my picky sister) think is truly the best dairy-free Mac n Cheese.

Not So Basic Mac n CheeseLet the Series Begin

I’m starting this Mac Attack Series off with this Mac N Cheese recipe because of its simplicity. It is my go-to Mac N Cheese. It’s also a basis of some of the other recipes that will follow in the series.

Don’t let the list of ingredients scare you… With a little multitasking, this recipe can be on the table in almost the amount of time it takes to make your pasta! My trick is in the process:

  • Start water for pasta
  • Roughly chop veggies and boil in a small pot – seriously this isn’t MasterChef! Knife cuts don’t really matter here. Just as long as everything is about the same size to soften evenly, you’re good.
  • Add cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard, spices, to blender and pulse to break down slightly

At this point, the water for the pasta should be boiling. While the noodles are cooking, about halfway through, work on blending the “cheese” sauce. By the time you drain the noodles, your sauce is ready and you’ve got dinner on the table! You will have cheese sauce leftover! I always save it and use it when I’m reheating my leftovers. Add a little bit of water or non-dairy milk to it to loosen it up. Alright, on to the recipe for my Not So Basic Mac N Cheese

Stick around… Next week I’m sharing the Mac Daddy of all Grilled Cheeses. It’s definitely one you shouldn’t miss!

Mac Attack Series | Not So Basic Mac

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8

Mac Attack Series | Not So Basic Mac


  • 1/4-1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
  • 10 baby carrots, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 cups water, plus additional for making the noodles
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of favorite hot sauce
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb shaped pasta, (elbows, shells, cavatappi, or pipe rigate, just to name a few)


  1. In a small saucepan boil the first 5 ingredients until the carrots soften. In a large pot, begin to boil water for your pasta. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain
  2. While the pasta boils, combine cashews, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, and spices in a high speed blender. When veggies have softened just past fork tender, spoon them into the blender with a slotted spoon. Add in a cup of the cooking water as well and pulse to begin breaking down cashews and veggies. Reserve remaining cooking liquid to help loosen the sauce if necessary.
  3. To the blender, add in non-dairy milk, vinegar, veggie oil, and hot sauce. Blend on high for 5-6 minutes until smooth and silky, using remaining cooking liquid to keep the mixture moving. Pour over drained, cooked pasta, stir to combine and serve!


*Reserve any remaining cheese sauce for reheating leftovers! Reheat your mac n cheese with a tablespoon of water. Reheat the cheese sauce by adding a splash of non-dairy milk or water to thin it just enough to loosen up your mac, pop it in the microwave until warm. Add just enough to make your mac as good as it was the day before, and so you have more for any other leftovers!

**Gluten-Free? Swap in your favorite gluten-free pasta. I've found that gluten-pasta holds up to the sauce better if you cook it for the lower amount of time suggested on the package.
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Kaiti J

Welcome to Garnished with Gratitude! I'm so glad you're here. I'm Kaiti, a fan of healthy-ish ways, lists/plans, and I'm a total goofball. I'm here to create a space that provides resources to live your best life! From food and exercise to visualization and inspiration, this site is for you.

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