Healthy Dairy and Gluten Free Vegan Mac n Cheese

      One of the dishes that my children can’t live without is Macaroni and Cheese.  Three out of my four kids who have lower levels of food allergies for wheat and milk would sometimes compromise with me just to have a serving this creamy, yellow, cheesy dish when we eat out.  Even if the two older ones already know that they will get some slight eczema irritations for at least 3 days after consuming it, they are willing to endure it.  Crazy right?
 
       So, what’s a food allergy mom got to do?  Since I can’t control those cravings and I don’t like to start with the blaming game, I decided to experiment on ingredients to make an allergy friendly and healthier version of the dish the kids love.  With so much trial and error, I finally found a version that is closest to the real thing and the children truly gave it a huge thumbs up. 
 
     My secret ingredient for this so called “Mac n Cheese” is sweet potato puree.  It provides the familiar yellow color and creamy texture. Even if you are not really dairy free and is just looking to save some calories, this version will make your comfort food much healthier by using less cheese and butter.  Give this a try and I’m pretty sure you’ll love it too.   

     Have a great day!

– Roz

Ingredients:

1 lb. cooked pasta preferable al dente (gluten free if you’re like us)
1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh garlic (minced into really tiny pieces but don’t puree)
1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree (recipe below)
1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 cup original flavored almond milk (you can use unsweetened coconut milk not the canned one)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 pcs. fresh sage leaves
pinch of chili flakes
1 Tbs. vegan buttery spread (I use Earth Balance Soy free)
2 inch cube cheddar style Daiya vegan cheese

1. In a big pan, with the heat on low, sauté the garlic in olive oil until the oil gets much of the flavor of the garlic.  Make sure not to brown or burn the garlic.  After about 3 minutes, you can remove the garlic if you like.
2. Add the sweet potato puree and broth.  Increase the heat to medium and bring to a slight boil.
3. Season with salt, pepper, chili flakes and paprika.
4. Add the almond or coconut milk and sage leaves.  Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Remove the sage leaves and let the buttery spread and Daiya cheese melt in the sauce.
6. Once all the “cheese” is melted, add the cooked pasta.  Sauce is a little loose but let the noodles absorb most of the sauce.
7. Serve immediately. 

Sweet Potato Puree

1 big sweet potato (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes) About 2 – 2 1/2 cups total
2 1/2 cups water (enough to cover the sweet potatoes)

     Bring the sweet potatoes and water to a rolling boil.  Cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.  Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.  Transfer the sweet potatoes and 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid to a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Use immediately or let it cool and transfer to a freezer bag.  Freeze until ready to use.
    

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