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Vegan Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese + This Week In Food and Sustainability: 11/22/2015 – 11/28/2015

vegan butternut squash mac and cheese // gratitude and greens // #vegan #vegetarian #plantbased #recipe

Last week I was running errands when I came across a man sitting cross-legged on a street corner, bundled up in blankets. I stopped and handed him the brownie I had wrapped up for this very reason. Walking away, I felt an ache in my heart knowing that- in that very moment- there wasn’t much else I could have done to change the man’s circumstances. Each day I see countless people walk pass those in need on the sidewalks without giving a second glance. It’s easy to dehumanize the homeless and to forget that they, too, are real people with very real feelings and a backstory we don’t know about. It’s easy to pass judgment, and it’s easy to forget that everyone is fighting a battle we don’t know about. What I find the most interesting is that people always seem to have “spare change” for the latest smart phone, television, or pair of shoes, but never seem to be able to spare change- or even kindness- for those who are truly in need. Even if change can’t be spared, let us be more conscious, kind, and empathetic this holiday season. (And, you know, all other seasons…)

Below zero weather has officially hit Toronto and the only thing I want to do after a long day at work is cozy up at home with something warm. My intake of fresh, leafy greens has significantly decreased; in an attempt to eat almost exclusively local produce, most of my vegetables consist of root vegetables: winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, and beets. I usually make myself soup or a lazy salad with roasted vegetables, but it can get boring after a while and I like to mix things up. Cue: this vegan butternut squash mac and cheese, which is warm and melty and basically everything you want to eat in the winter. This dish doesn’t require much of a recipe and you could really ace it by just tasting, which is, realistically, what I do every time I make it. BUT for everyone’s sake (and mine, I suppose) I decided to write down some measurements each time. This recipe is tried and true, and if you love nutritional yeast, garlic, and pasta as much as I do, I think you’ll love this mac and “cheese”. I first shared this recipe on the site two years ago, but it was very poorly photographed. So this is really vegan butternut squash mac and cheese 2.0.

vegan butternut squash mac and cheese // gratitude and greens // #vegan #vegetarian #plantbased #recipe

vegan butternut squash mac and cheese // gratitude and greens // #vegan #vegetarian #plantbased #recipe

Before we get onto the recipe… some stuff that caught my eye this week in the food and sustainability world:

vegan butternut squash mac and cheese // gratitude and greens // #vegan #vegetarian #plantbased #recipe

vegan butternut squash mac and cheese // gratitude and greens // #vegan #vegetarian #plantbased #recipe

NOTES: If you prefer a runnier sauce, add nut milk as needed or until you reach your desired consistency. I used orecchiette in lieu of macaroni but use whatever pasta your heart desires :)

INGREDIENTS
Serves 5-6.

  • 1 large butternut squash, around 1 kg, chopped into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil for roasting + another 2
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast + more if desired
  • 1 cup unsweetened nut milk – see notes
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups pasta of choice

For the breadcrumb topping:

  • 1 cup / 100g~ breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF/205ºC. Melt the tablespoon of coconut oil and toss with the chopped butternut squash in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and roast on a large pan until soft, around 20-30 minutes.
  2. When the squash is done, remove from the oven and begin to sauté the garlic with the remaining coconut oil. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
  3. Add the spinach and peas. When the greens begin to wilt, add the butternut squash. Place the vegetables in a blender with the nut milk and blend until smooth, adding nut milk until you reach your desired consistency or pour the nut milk into the pot with the veggies and blend with an immersion blender. Pour the mixture back into the pot and add the nutritional yeast.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously salt. Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the breadcrumbs by sautéing the garlic in oil on medium heat until fragrant. Coat the breadcrumbs with the garlic oil mixture and set aside.
  5. Drain the pasta and transfer it to an ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce over and top with breadcrumbs.  Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Your edible plant enthusiast,
Gen.

<< vegan no bake granola bars + a cookbook giveaway!

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27 Comments

  1. dixya | food, pleasure, and health
    November 30, 2015

    it breaks my heart to see them as well because like you said, everyone has a story we have no clue about. i do complain about my life at times but when i come across something tragic/sad stuff makes me feel grateful. i need to really practice being more thankful for everything i have.

    about the veggie consumption, i have been doing poorly on my side too. soup/stews seems to be the usual go-to option here as well. im totally on board for mac n cheese though.

    Reply
    • genevieve y
      December 2, 2015

      Sometimes we all need an extra reminder to be grateful. I make an effort to practice gratitude everyday, but some days are just harder than others! xo

      Reply
  2. Petra @ CrumblesAndKale
    November 30, 2015

    Its good to have that reminder of always being thankful for what you have, its so easy to get tangled up in details and strive forward without appreciating what you have. Thank you for reminding me!

    And that recipe though, sound perfect for the cold weather!

    Reply
  3. Linda | The Baker Who Kerns
    November 30, 2015

    Living in New York it is really hard to see all the people who are homeless struggle. Thanks for reminding me to give a little this holiday season especially with the temperatures dropping. But on the up side this ‘mac and cheese’ is exactly what I have been looking for. I love my butternut squash and because I’m not so friendly with dairy anymore I can’t wait to make this. Thanks for revamping this recipe and sharing!

    Reply
    • genevieve y
      December 6, 2015

      Thank you Linda! Homelessness is a big issue everywhere, but even more so in big cities. I loved mac and cheese when I was a kid, I was so happy to discover nutritional yeast and butternut squash mac and cheese! I’ve tried it with sweet potatoes too and it is so wonderfully creamy. xo

      Reply
  4. Liora (Allthingsloveli)
    December 1, 2015

    The cold has hit us in CT as well, I am cooking up some warm soup as we speak. I am constantly reminding myself to be grateful for my warm house and clothes, it is such a harsh reminder when I see someone who is not as fortunate. I was listening to an interesting report on NPR today in honor of Giving Tuesday about the spectrum of giving and how all gifts are important. One woman called in and said she has keeps a box of granola bars in her car to hand to someone in need. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe, butternut squash is my favorite!

    Reply
    • genevieve y
      December 6, 2015

      Thank you Liora! My sister lives in CT, too, although she hasn’t mentioned much about the weather. Thanks for pointing me towards that NPR report, I’m going to do a quick Google search and see if I can find it! High 5s to that lady who keeps the granola bars in her car- it makes me so happy to hear about other people doing this! I don’t drive often but my kitchen is always filled with baked goods that I can’t eat all by myself so I keep a little container of treats in my bag to give out. xo

      Reply
  5. Gina
    December 1, 2015

    I’m often overwhelmed when walking around downtown San Francisco by how many homeless people reside here. It’s a huge problem, and one that is so staggering that it hits you over the head in a “where did they all come from!?” sort of way. It’s easy to feel like there’s nothing any one person can do to fix this, and when you live in/near an urban area and see it every day, it’s easy for homelessness to just become part of the landscape. Thanks for shaking the complacency off all of us readers with your post! You’ve helped spread awareness and empathy that reached me all the way out in California. ;) I like the idea of keeping something handy in your purse (other than change) that you can hand off, too.

    Reply
    • genevieve y
      December 6, 2015

      Aw thank you Gina! It really is so easy to be complacent and forget that homeless people are real people and I have to admit that I began to notice myself succumbing to this before snapping myself out of it. I think we just need a little reminder every now and then! xo

      Reply
  6. danielle is rooting the sun
    December 1, 2015

    so lovely Genevieve – i think the pairing of butternut and pasta for a macaroni and cheese is such a swell one! i really love your sentiments of being compassionate here. it’s human nature to judge, but if we allow ourselves just an extra moment to let it pass and have empathy and warmth instead -life is richer this way. also i am right there with you on the decrease of my beloved leafy greens – it’s been many root vegetables lately! xoxo love to your week lady.

    Reply
  7. Grace @ Earthy Feast
    December 3, 2015

    The wold needs more kind and generous souls like you! Thank you for sharing your genuine spirit and the recipe for this comfort in a bowl! So much goodness!

    Reply
  8. Thalia @ butter and brioche
    December 3, 2015

    OBSESSED. With this recipe. Totally need to make it! Butternut squash mac and cheese sounds divine.

    Reply
  9. Erin
    December 3, 2015

    You have such a sweet soul!! I recently found out that someone near and dear to me was diagnosed with cancer. It is sad, but sometimes things like that (or seeing a homeless person on the street) really puts things in perspective and makes us reflect and realize how insignificant our problems truly are. A little kindness and love goes a long way! I am sure you made. What you did was wonderful and heart warming! Now about the mac and cheese… YUM! Perfect for a cold day!!

    Reply
    • genevieve y
      December 6, 2015

      Aw, thank you so much Erin! You are too kind. I so agree that a little kindness and love goes a long way! xo

      Reply
  10. Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist
    December 5, 2015

    I love everything in the mac and cheese category and the butternut squash addition is perfect. Beautiful photos and I love the new “snow” feature. Your opening paragraph is so true, unfortunately. Our minds can tend toward quick judgments and instant conclusions rather than seeing another human being in front of us who is suffering. We need more people like you in the world sharing your thoughts, increasing awareness, and giving generously. xoxo

    Reply
    • genevieve y
      December 6, 2015

      Thank you so much Kathryn! I actually have no idea when I opted for snow on my site but it’s kind of cute and I quite like it! Even though it is easy to pass judgement I try to remind myself that everyone has a story and we never know the whole picture until we talk to them. xo

      Reply
  11. Amy (Lemon and Coconut)
    December 5, 2015

    Hey Gen, that dish looks SO good! Thanks for your thoughtful post. I remember when I first came to a big city in my teens and saw homeless people, it was such a shock. What a world. I can’t stand it. You cannot give to everyone, and you feel so bad, it’s just desperate. I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen, and the council here is very unsupportive to the point of sabotaging the kitchen and trying to shut it down, which is so shocking. Being homeless causes and is caused by often so many mental health issues, it’s so complex. But having a government who gave a shit would help. No-one should be on the streets, and it could be any one of us too. Food is a great thing to give, I remember once there was this guy who refused different things, and had exasperated loads of people around, I bought him a cream cake and he was in heaven! (though now it might be a gluten-free seed ball and would probably be thrown back at me!) xx

    Reply
    • genevieve @ gratitude & greens
      December 7, 2015

      What your council did is awful! I figured that everyone needs to eat and I always have treats sitting in my kitchen, so why not give them to people in need? It probably wouldn’t be a good idea if I decided to demolish an entire tray of brownies myself! For me, food also represents love, nourishment, giving, kindness… all things I want to share with people who may or may not be missing those things. xo

      Reply
  12. Sonali- The Foodie Physician
    December 5, 2015

    You have such a beautiful soul Gen. In the ER, I take care of a large number indigent patients. And I couldn’t agree with you more, you definitely can’t judge a book by it’s cover. You never know what someone is dealing with or what lead to their current situation. Thanks for sharing this post along with your wonderful recipe :)

    Reply
  13. Farrah
    December 6, 2015

    Ahhhh, that mac n cheese looks amazing! *-*

    Thanks for those links too! I’m looking forward to getting some reading in soon, hopefully! That one on the Amazon makes me super sad–I’m going to check out whether or not I’m contributing to that, because if I am, I’m definitely going to stop!

    Reply
  14. Molly
    December 9, 2015

    Genevieve,

    I live in NYC and yesterday I was walking to work completely zoned out when a young woman asked if I had any food. I did not even register that she was talking to me until I was past her and heard her say “I’m sorry I bothered you miss, have a good day”. I turned to say I was sorry, I did not have anything, but she was too far away. When I was one block away I remembered that I had an extra hanger-preventing snack in my purse that I could have given her. I felt sick to my stomach, and recalled this post you had written. If I had been more present I would have realized that I had something for her. This event is still stuck with me, and this morning I told my husband that from now on I will carry snacks for others and be more aware of the struggles of those around me. Your post played a large role in this decision, so thank you for pushing me to be a better and kinder person.

    Reply

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