Mac Attack Series | “Not-Burger” Helper

May 7, 2018 , In: Eat, Recipes , With: No Comments

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The winds of change are blowing me onto my next adventure, so my Mac Attack Series is coming to an end sooner than planned. This will be the last mac and cheese post in the series.

From my not so basic mac and cheese to the Ultimate BBQ mac and cheese (and everything in between!), this series has been a blast, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t reinvent a pseudo-mac and cheese meal from my past… how often did you have Hamburger Helper growing up (or even now)?

For our first date, I made Ryan Hamburger Helper, which is basically what I grew up on. I make my own version of it now, with macaroni and cheese and hamburger meat. And the kids – it’s their favorite dinner.

Reese Witherspoon

Guys, WHAT?! Reese Witherspoon eats Hamburger Helper… there is hope for the rest of us! Isn’t it exciting to know when celebrities enjoy unhealthy food too? It’s like a glimpse of a normal person in the limelight. Sorry, fan-girling real hard right now!

Hamburger Helper

When I was a kid, dinner was mostly a meal made from convenience. I had ballet, my sister swam, dad coached football, and mom traveled a lot for work. We had macaroni and cheese with hot dogs more than I’d care to admit! But occasionally we’d have a different meal from a box. True to its name, it was a big help!

The origins

Hamburger Helper made its debut in 1971. A shortage of meat sent the prices skyrocketing! Leaving families unsure of how to feed everyone. With a box of Hamburger Helper, 1-lb of ground beef stretched to feed 5! Everything but the meat comes in that little box. But, have you ever read the ingredients? There’s some stuff that doesn’t sound so good… (ie: “Monoglycerides”, translation: TRANS FAT THAT THEY AREN’T REQUIRED TO ADD TO NUTRITION LABEL!!!)

The Twist

The Cheeseburger Macaroni flavor is one of the most popular of the Helper line. Cheese. Macaroni. It got me thinking about another recipe for the Mac Attack Series! Now, obviously, if you’ve been following along you know that I don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs… which pretty much rules Hamburger Helper off my dinner table. Until now.

For this recipe, everything goes into the pot (spices, veggies, pasta, and your favorite meat sub) and voila! Homemade Veg-Burger Helper!

Pro Tip: Meal Prep! To make it even easier during the week, measure out the spices a few days before when you have more time. Store in a tiny Tupperware container. (I like to refill it while everything is cooking so I know it’s always ready!)

While I’m excited to share this recipe with you, I’m a little sad to bring this Mac Attack Series to an end. The weekly series is officially over, BUT I still have some ideas up my sleeves so I will add-on/revisit the idea later. Definitely be on the lookout for a Mac Attack part 2 in the future! I’ll be sharing more stuff with you in the coming weeks but I will be moving my posting date to Wednesdays.

Here’s what’s happening: I’m in the process of moving to another state, Commonwealth actually. Back to Kentucky, I go! My heart is so happy. Looking forward to ending the “long-distance” piece of my relationship. 🙂

As I wrap up this series though, I have to thank my friend, Sarah, for really encouraging me to do it! We talked about it a few years ago, some life happened, and I finally got around to doing it. Now the question is… what should I do next!? I’m taking your suggestions in the comments below!


Mac Attack Series | “Veg-Burger” Helper

Yield: 6-8

Mac Attack Series | “Veg-Burger” Helper


  • 1/2 cup Raw Cashews
  • 1/2 cup Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 medium Onion, chopped small
  • 1/2 bag gardein Beef-less Ground
  • 2 tsp EACH - Paprika, Dried Parsley, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder
  • Pinch-1/2 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper, adjust to your liking
  • 12 oz Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 1/2 cups Veggie Broth
  • 8 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Sugar
  • S&P to taste


  1. In a blender combine the cashews, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, and turmeric. Blend on high until completely smooth.
  2. Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil and brown the beefless grounds, onion, spices (paprika, dried parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder), cayenne pepper and, S&P. Stir in veggie broth, macaroni, tomato sauce, sugar, and cashew mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Remove from heat, stir, and serve!
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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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