Another Meatless Monday: Mel’s Cashew Mac N’ Cheese
March 19, 2021
My family and I have been enjoying a Meatless Monday every week. We sit once a week, critique a new recipe, and keep an open mind as we talk about the benefits of consuming more plants. This week, my kids brought up the concept of “Lowering our Carbon Footprint.” What an interesting conversation! When we eat more plants, especially when we shop locally, we spend our money closer to home. We support our farmers, and we consume healthier and more nutrient dense food. Local vegetables are picked at the height of ripeness and do not require long periods of transportation.
Tonight’s meal featured cashews, living in Canada, they were certainly not locally sourced. Within the context of this conversation, we discussed nut and plant farming, verses animal farming and whether or not it did, in fact, offer a smaller carbon footprint? Some quick googling and a discussion about how to find reliable sources, led us to discover that chicken and eggs have the lowest carbon footprint for meat protein and all vegetarian sources of protein, although they may require manufacturing equipment and transportation, have a lower footprint than animal sources. Farmers creating vegetarian sources of protein, are growing plants. As we all know, plants contribute to cleaner air. Thank you photosynthesis! Unfortunately, the delicious cashew typically comes a long way to reach my dinner table, my nuts were sourced from Vietnam.
Fun Fact: Cashew nuts are not actually nuts, they are seeds. Every cashew you eat has grown out of the bottom of one, individual, Cashew Apple, which means that the apple might also not technically be considered a fruit, as its seed is found outside of the fruit. Perplexing, right?Regardless, cashews are delicious and Cashew Mac N‘ Cheese will find a consistent role in my weekly rotation.
My Cashew Mac N’ Cheese is served with a generous helping of local vegetables. Whether or not we consume plants that are local or sourced from elsewhere in the world, they are so good for us. When we enjoy plants, we load our systems with vitamins and antioxidants, hydrate our bodies, detoxify them, and we ease up on our digestion. One or two vegetarian days a week will contribute to lowering inflammation, related to plant based components, nutrients and fibre. This Mac N’ Cheese is served best with lots of veggies, especially, with my preference, a serving of steamed broccoli. Steamed broccoli tastes amazing when dipped in the dairy-free cheese sauce!
The key to a Cashew Cheese Sauce is a good blender! I actually process in my blender first and then pour it into my nutri-bullet in two smaller batches to really process the sauce to improve the texture.
1 cup of soaked cashews
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups of filtered water
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional, but don’t skip it)
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of mustard powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp of unrefined sea salt
pepper, to taste
Soak 1 cup of cashews for at least four hours, or overnight.
Drain and rinse the cashews.
Place the soaked cashews in a blender.
Add 2 cups of filtered water to the blender.
Juice half a lemon into the blender.
Crush garlic, chop jalapeños and add to the blender.
Add nutritional yeast, onion powder, turmeric, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper to the blender.
Blend until smooth, this may take some time, the smoother you get it at this stage, the more velvety the texture becomes, as I mentioned in this article, I process in a large blender and move to smaller batches in my nutri-bullet.
Start a pot of salted water for your favourite noodles and follow cooking instructions.
Place your cheese sauce in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for a minute. This process thickens the sauce.
Strain your noodles (always rinse if they’re gluten free) and add the noodles to a serving bowl, pour as much cheese sauce as is required over the noodles and stir.
Hold onto extra cheese sauce in a glass jar, add 1/2 tsp of cumin and some chili salt to it on another day for an amazing nacho dip!
I certainly hope you will consider making my Cashew Mac N’ Cheese and that you enjoy this meal as much as I do! I encourage you to try something new this week and consider adding more veggies to your meal plan! This recipe is an easy-to-make crowd pleaser. Feel free to drop a comment below with any questions or concerns! Thanks for reading!