dinner gluten-free vegan vegetarian

Baked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese {Dairy-Free}

October 13, 2015

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!

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.

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!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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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!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.


Baked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese {Dairy-Free}

  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Meanwhile, cook macaroni according package instructions (mine takes about 7-8 minutes).
  4. Strain noodles and set aside.
  5. When butternut squash is done, remove from oven and place in a food processor blender.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Add back to baking dish and spread out evenly.
  9. Sprinkle hemp seeds on top for added protein.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes on the top rack of oven.
  11. Serve warm.


*Feel free to substitute with non-gluten-free noodles if gluten is not a proble,

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!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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  • Reply
    October 13, 2015 at 5:25 am

    My reason why I don’t eat meat every day is mostly the price and the fact that I adore veggies. I don’t think I will ever become vegetarian I love the meat too much, but in moderation. This pasta dish looks delicious, I often replace dairy sauces with pureed vegetables thinned with almond milk, broccoli is my favourite, but this butternut squash version will also find it’s way on my plate!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:56 am

      Yeah I feel the same way! I don’t know that it will ever be 100% replaced but there’s certainly room for a decrease. Glad you agree!

  • Reply
    October 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

    This looks like THE PERFECT meatless Monday recipe. I loved that you topped it with hemp hearts, too!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      So does this mean you’re on board for meatless monday?!?! 😉

  • Reply
    kaitlin @4loveofcarrots
    October 13, 2015 at 8:04 am

    this looks amazing!! I am totally with you on everything you mentioned above, I just wish I could get that husband of mine on board with this! I try to eat vegetarian at breakfast and lunch though.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      It’s so hard when your other half isn’t totally on board! I’m trying to convince him with spaghetti squash and chickpeas tonight…I’m gonna guess this isn’t gonna go over well haha

  • Reply
    October 13, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I have been feeling this way in a sense as well! But like you i lead a pretty active lifestyle and have been worried about not getting enough protein to support my muscle repair! I will have to check out Alexis thoughts on this as well!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      yeah she knows what’s up! She’s my go-to and has totally eased my thoughts on staying active and decreasing my meat consumption. Also her recipes are amazing!

  • Reply
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma
    October 13, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Big fan of the Silk cashew milk and this looks too good!

  • Reply
    Linda @ The fitty
    October 13, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Is the secret to make this cheesy the nutritional yeast?

    I literally HAUL the cheese over the top of baked mac and cheese and I’m trying to cut dairy.

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
    October 13, 2015 at 11:21 am

    SO MANY GOOD THINGS HERE! Gah I want to say so much but I’ll keep it short… Love this dairy-free mac and “cheese”. Love that you topped with hemp hearts, brilliant.
    Totally agree on decreasing meat consumption. My husband is a hunter, so that helps a ton on what meat we end up purchasing. And this is making me want to truly incorporate “Meatless Monday” more often. 😀

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      yayayayaya so happy you agree! I was a little nervous putting up this post!

      • Reply
        Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
        October 13, 2015 at 8:29 pm

        I can imagine the nervousness! But one thing I’ve realized after diving into the blogging world is that EVERYONE has an opinion on something. Especially this type of stuff. Lots of misinformation out there. And people are going to think what they want. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t share! <3
        P.S. I love that you put ketchup on the mac. One of the first times we had our (Canadian) friends visit us (long time ago) we had mac n cheese for dinner. I remember my friend asking my mom if she could have some ketchup. And my mom just looked at her like she was crazy. "Ketchup…? For what?" Hahaha. Now we know better. 😉

        • Reply
          Davida Kugelmass
          October 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm

          hahahahahahaha yup ketchup is definitely a thing on mac here. Although technically it’s a drizzle of sriracha 😉 College late-night-eats got me hooked on the mac-sriracha combo! Thanks so much for the support, lovely. It’s kind of hilarious how many people thought I was going vegan after this post. People love to jump to conclusions! Nope, just eating more plants. That’s all 🙂

  • Reply
    Em @ Love A Latte
    October 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I LOVE a plant-based diet. Been following one for 6 years and it has changed my world. I’m so excited about this recipe. I also save all your vegetarian recipes to try!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      I had a feeling you’d be happy about this news 🙂 Feel free to send over any of your favorite plant-based recipes! I’m in the market 🙂

  • Reply
    Bethany @ Athletic Avocado
    October 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    This is such a genius idea for making cheese-less mac and cheese!

  • Reply
    Emilie @ Emilie Eats
    October 13, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    This makes me so happy to read! I think everyone could benefit from consuming a little less meat, and the plant would definitely appreciate it, too! I have a huge butternut squash right now so this mac & “cheese” might have to find its way to my plate very soon 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Awesome! I’m so happy you’re in support 🙂 I’ve been overdosing on BNS lately too!

  • Reply
    October 13, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Mac and cheese was a childhood favorite of mine! I HAVE to find some black bean macaroni pasta and recreate this dish!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 14, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      ohhhhh I bet it would be awesome with black bean macaroni!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I can totally feel you on this one lady. First veggo and then vegan to try and help with all you mentioned above. Now I realise my body needs a little animal protein to work best as we are all different! I think as long as we are plant focused, local as possible and minimise waste then some animal protein is totes fine. And like you said its about where it comes from! Sustainable, pastured eggs are probably much better for the environment then pesticide drowned coconuts that fly in from another country… Its a balance I think!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      I totally agree. I think our diets are a work in progress and will forever be changing. Living with too many boundaries doesn’t make it any fun so you have to be open to the changes and what works for you!

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Eat the Gains
    October 16, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Love this post! I used to be a vegetarian (but ate safood on occasion) for 5 years but then got really into CrossFit which then lead to paleo. I got way too into it and my veggie consumption went way down. I haven’t been paleo for a while now and feel a lot more balanced in my eating and life. I have recently been trying to ditch a lot of meat though and focus on the veggies. I feel great and am happy I am getting back to the way I used to eat. I agree with you though about your boyfriend. Mine grew up with the standard meat and potatoes diet so it is sometimes like “wait wtf are we having for dinner” lol. Anyways, now that I wrote a book haha, excited to see some more recipes like this!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      October 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      ha yeah that’s pretty much his reaction to every meal LOL. I think our diets will be ever-changing. It makes sense though, we change, our circumstances change, our knowledge changes, seasons change! We’re always changing. I think we should all be as open-minded as you about allowing our diets to evolve!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Is this a vegan dish? My vegan niece is coming to dinner. (I am new to this.)

  • Reply
    September 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Do you think I could use frozen broccoli?!!

  • Reply
    Nicole Samuel
    February 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    This looks AMAZING! Do you think it’s possible to use canned butternut squash or pumpkin instead of going through the cubing and roasting process? If so, about how much would you say is needed?

  • Reply
    March 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Could I make the sauce ahead of time? If so, how long do you think it would last in the fridge? This looks AMAZING.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    I’m making this for dinner tonight! I’m a devout vegan (but have been missin’ macaroni) and have been looking for a healthier substitute for boxed vegan mac. I like this recipe because it doesn’t require soaking/blending cashews, which I don’t buy. I always have butternut squash and a ton of other veggies in my kitchen so this is perfect!

    I used chickpea elbow pasta for protein and panko bread crumbs instead of hemp seeds. So ready to try it.

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