I have never been a fan of the boxed variety of mac and cheese, and I was not subject to it as a small child. Mac and cheese is not generally a food that my parents made or were drawn to, since they are not from here. I vaguely remember tasting the boxed variety at a friends house and thinking it was gross, and since then, I “didn’t like mac and cheese”. But no one doesn’t not like mac and cheese. Rather, one might not like the boxed variety.
My first positive mac and cheese memory was also at my friends house. I was a little suspicious and scared when she told me her mom was making mac and cheese for dinner and that it was “so good!”. I was expecting another meal from a box. But alas, I was very wrong. Her mom made baked mac and cheese, from scratch, with crunchy bread crumbs on top and ooey gooey creamy-ness inside. Since then, I liked mac and cheese, but only real mac and cheese.
Its not a food I make often because the ingredients are rather expensive and I wont buy a 2 lb block of generic cheese. When making it at home, I had been experimenting with vegan versions made of nutritional yeast, silken tofu, and an assortment of spices. I have had some successes. And now, living in the bay area, it is rather easy to obtain vegan mac and cheese that makes my heart sing. Both Homeroom and Souley Vegan have versions of the dish, and the Souley Vegan kind can also be found in the ready to go refrigerator at several grocery stores.
When I found this vegan boxed version on the shelf, my curiosity got the better of me. I had used “chreese” sauce before and I knew it tasted good. So why would this not taste good? Chrees-y sauce AND whole wheat macaroni? Sold! (they also have a gluten free version and a mac and shells kind which is not whole wheat)
Its really easy to make: Boil water, Add pasta, Drain. Make sauce: water +powder+1-3T oil. Combine. I generally add some extra nutritional yeast, and I only use 1T olive oil.
Last night I had the genius idea of making this mac and cheese and throwing in the extra cup of pumpkin puree I had in my refrigerator from earlier this week. I omitted the oil from the cheesy sauce and simply used water+powder+pumpkin+extra nutritional yeast. It was FANTASTIC. The pumpkin made the mac and cheese extraordinarily creamy, and it also had the added benefit of some extra nutrition. And, it turned a brilliant shade of orange, reminiscent of fake cheddar cheese. I like the whole wheat macaroni because of the slightly nutty taste that it adds, and the grainy texture. So, if you are on a quest for a great boxed version of mac and cheese, yet suspicious what exactly powdered cheese contains, I would highly recommend this vegan version (+pumpkin). None of the ingredients are strange, its mostly a combination of spices, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch.