Growing up, my family would always stay at the same hotel in Austin (and still does today) on our way to and from summer camp in the Texas Hill Country. When we were a bit older in high school, we’d eat dinner at the gorgeous hotel restaurant overlooking Lady Bird Lake and the trail. But for those years early on, my sister and I begged our parents to let us order room service, which to an eight-year-old is the absolute BEST thing on the planet earth.
And to this day, my sister and I still reminisce on our all-time favorite room service meal: mac and cheese. But the particular version we adored from this hotel came with a creamy white sauce and peas, both of which made it seem extremely special and exotic.
So when I was recently going through my pantry and spied a box of the new Banza Alphabets, I was immediately transported back to childhood and knew some mac and cheese was in order. But in true Goodness With G fashion, I wanted to maintain all that cheesy flavor with a little more plant-based nutrition.
While the look of this creamy pasta might trick you into thinking otherwise, it’s actually packed with veggies and completely dairy free! The cauliflower “cheese” sauce is super simple to whip up and uses my favorite cheesy alternative, nutritional yeast.
This inactive yeast is heated and dried into flakes and has a remarkable cheese-like flavor. Plus, it’s filled with vitamins, minerals and protein to boost energy, strengthen the immune system and promote hair, skin and nail health. Nutritional yeast is also what I use to bring all the cheesy goodness to my Dairy-Free Pine Nut Pesto, Healthy Homemade Cheez-Its and more!
But the main star of this sauce, cauliflower, is also a nutritional powerhouse of its own. Cauliflower is high in various vitamins and minerals and packs a punch of fiber and antioxidants that help maintain healthy cells, fight cancer and more.
And while I encourage you to really let your inner child out with these alphabet noodles, any sort of pasta you prefer works perfectly! I personally love Banza because it’s made from chickpeas for additional plant-based protein and fiber. My other favorite brands include Tolerant Foods and Pow Pasta.
Simply whip up this easy sauce in your food processor or blender, cook a bag of frozen peas and mix together with any pasta you choose, and this plant-based meal is ready in no time.
And while I was inspired by my own childhood tradition, I’m pretty sure that mac and cheese is something that all of us can easily get behind .
- 1 head of cauliflower, steamed
- 3 tbsp avocado oil (can sub olive oil, ghee or butter)
- 6-8 tbsp nutritional yeast (adjust to taste and to the size of your cauliflower)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 box pasta of choice (I used Banza Chickpea Alphabets)
- 1 bag frozen peas, cooked according to package directions
- more nutritional yeast for topping
- sliced green onions for topping
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