Ditch the dairy with this vegan Baked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe! It’s made with gluten-free noodles, a health-kick from broccoli and a fake-out “cheese” sauce made from butternut squash and cashew milk!
I’m one of those people who believes that if you’re meant to do something, there will always be a sign. I’m also a die-hard astrology fan and totally skip the cracks on sidewalks, but that’s besides the point 😉 Needless to say, if I’m meant to try something, the universe almost always encourages me to do so.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I want to change my diet up. When people ask me what diet I follow or blog about, I never have a sufficient answer. I’m almost always gluten-free, ideally dairy-free if I don’t succumb to the power of cheese and a carnivore with a passion for every veggie under the sun. That’s the short version of it. The long version involves a tale of egg-free, red-meat-free, wheat-free but not gluten-free and the list could go on and on.
Basically, I’m all about experimentation and finding what works for you now even if it wouldn’t have worked in the past and may not work in the future.
Right now, I’m at one of the cross-roads. I’ve been inspired by people around me and through educating myself with research to work on decreasing my meat consumption. It’s something I’ve been toying with for a while now, but it wasn’t until the universe sent the sign that I actually took action.
A few weeks ago SILK reached out about a new initiative they’re starting called #MeatlessMondayNight. The goal is to encourage people to consider increasing their plant consumption over meat or dairy consumption. Specifically, they’re targeting the football fanatics who between the chicken wings and nachos could maybe benefit from a few more veggies in their diet.
This was my sign.
Don’t get me wrong now, I am definitely not anti-meat. I certainly appreciate and value meat as part of my diet, but it doesn’t need to be an everyday, every meal kind of situation. Especially considering the fact that I’m a diva and insist of local, organic meat, which is HELLA expensive and as it turns out, incredibly unsustainable for the environment.
My reasons for wanting to support this campaign and adopt it in my life is two fold:
- It’s an expensive and unnecessary habit – even though I love meat, it makes a huge dent in our monthly food budget. There are so many plant-based alternatives to protein that make having meat at every meal completely unnecessary.
- I’m trying to decrease my ecological footprint – I haven’t talked enough about this on here but the last few months I’ve been actively trying to decrease my waste consumption and try to live more sustainably. One of the most substantial impacts I can make is focusing on a plant-based diet.
My only concern with decreasing my meat and dairy consumption is that I won’t get enough protein for my active lifestyle. Turns out it’s such a misnomer how much protein we think we need to consume (Thank you to my girl Alexis for educating me!). We oftentimes forget that veggies and other sources of nutrition provide substantial protein that is comparable to meat. In addition, unless you’re trying to become a body-builder (which I’m not), you really don’t need as much protein as you think you do. With a better balance of meat and vegetable protein I am still certain I can get in enough each day.
So that’s ultimately what inspired this Baked Butternut Squash Mac + Cheese. While I’m not becoming a vegetarian overnight, C is not totally on board with my newfound focus on plant-based meals. So I’ve had to make sure the dishes I am cooking are a) delicious b) filling enough to feed my carnivore. I also think that starting small is the best way to achieve your goals, so we’re starting with Meatless Mondays! Although, truth-be-told that’s kind of like only recycling on Mondays but it’s better than nothing.
This meal totally passed the test! It’s dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free and still insanely yummy. You can expect many more dishes like these and I hope you’ll join me in the #MeatlessMondayNight challenge! I’m excited to kick things off.
- 3 cups of peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt (divided)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 cups uncooked gluten-free macaroni (I like brown rice or quinoa noodles)*
- 1/2 cup SILK unsweetened cashew milk (can sub with SILK unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar.
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add Butternut Squash and onion to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (casserole dish) and top with olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook macaroni according package instructions (mine takes about 7-8 minutes).
- Strain noodles and set aside.
- When butternut squash is done, remove from oven and place in a food processor blender.
- Add in cashew milk, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and nutritional yeast. Blend until all comes together into a smooth mixture. There should be no clumps.
- Combine macaroni and broccoli in a large bowl or pot and top with butternut squash mixture and mix until macaroni and broccoli are well coated.
- Add back to baking dish and spread out evenly.
- Sprinkle hemp seeds on top for added protein.
- Bake for 20 minutes on the top rack of oven.
- Serve warm.
Make sure you visit the SILK website for more delicious plant-based recipes and a chance to win a giveaway! Also be sure to tag your Meatless Monday Meals with #MeatlessMondayNight so you can spread the love!
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
Thoughts on a plant-based diet? Are you excited to see more vegetarian meals around here?
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