Mac and cheeze isn't something I eat all that often in the summer months, but it's been a particularly grey weekend, and after DNS'ing my race, I felt like putting all that excess energy into whipping up some healthy comfort food. Plus, my butternut squash has been patiently waiting in the fruit basket, valiantly resisting mold, since about the time I got my wisdom teeth out. So I figured it was about time I put it to good use.
Though this version is a bit of a departure from the typical dish (spoiler alert: it contains vegetables), it is still delicious and very satisfying. The butternut squash sauce is amazingly smooth and creamy, but without all the cream and margarine, so it won't leave you feeling sluggish. Sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms add a savoury component, and I think artichoke hearts could be a nice addition as well. I also replaced the macaroni with chickpea-lentil shell pasta, which is high in protein and fiber as well as gluten-free. I got mine on sale at Nature's Emporium during my quest for soba noodles earlier this week. I've been loving these pulse pastas lately; they're super nutrient dense and allow me to cook only one thing while still getting my protein. They are, however, a little on the pricey side and can be hard to find, so feel free to sub in another type of pasta and add roasted or regular chickpeas or baked tofu for protein.
In terms of my "race" this morning, it didn't go exactly as planned. My tendonitis flared up after my massage on Wednesday, and I decided not to run rather then risk aggravating it further. Though this was the most logical decision, and as a doctor, I should know that I shouldn't be running on something that's aggravated by an easy warm-up, but I have a lot of trouble taking my own advice and letting myself actually back down. It can be hard to toe the line and to know when to step back, which is why I used to find having a knowledgeable coach so useful.
Nick still ran, and pulled off a speedy 16:40 despite his lack of training. My other teammate was happy with her result as well. Since I was going anyways, I decided to volunteer and ended up having a great time lounging around the finish and cheering people on. I felt a little disappointed to not be racing, but I'm hoping that staying on the side lines this weekend will let me bounce back for next week. So fingers crossed.
For anyone who is interested in participating in their own free 5k, the organization is called "Park Run", and they organize free weekly hand-timed community runs in cities across 14 different countries. Pretty cool!
This healthy version of the American classic tastes even better then the real thing! Protein-rich chickpea shell pasta holds this creamy sauce well, but you can use any pasta you have on hand. You can also replace the tahini with 1/2 c of soaked raw cashews and the butternut squash with regular or sweet potato. This makes quite a large amount, so feel free to half it or freeze some of the sauce, it should keep about a month in the freezer in an airtight container.
- 3-4 c. of shell-shaped chickpea pasta
- 1 zucchini, sliced or julienned
- 6 cremini mushrooms, julienned (or use portobello)
- 1/4 c sun dried tomato, cut into small pieces
- 2 c of cooked butternut squash, cubed
- 1/3 c shallot or onion, diced
- 1-3 garlic cloves or 1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1-3 tsp Sriracha
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place a large pot on the stove, half filled with water, and bring to a boil.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Dice the shallot or onion and garlic cloves and add all three to the boiling water. Cook for 10 or so minutes, until soft.
Bring a smaller pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta as per the instructions on the box. I cooked my chickpea pasta about 8 minutes.
Slice the zucchini and mushrooms. I pan fried mine for about 6 minutes on medium heat. You could also consider boiling them with the pasta for the sake of doing less dishes. If boiling, just add for the last minute of cooking.
Test the butternut squash, using a fork, to see if it's ready. The fork should slide in easily. Drain and add 2 c of the butternut squash, onion and garlic mixture to your blender. Add all of the other sauce ingredients and blend until smooth.
Remove the pasta from the heat, once ready, and drain. Mix the pasta and vegetables with the sauce, coating thoroughly. Add the sun dried tomatoes and mix.
This always makes extra sauce when I make it. You can also adjust the recipe to make extra if desired. Extra sauce can be frozen (3 weeks) or stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Use to make more mac and cheese or as a sauce on pizza, nachos or burritos!
That's all for today, I hope you all had a lovely weekend. As you may, or may not have noticed, I have now added a print and a 5 star rating system to my recipes. You can rate in the comments, and an average of all the ratings will be displayed on the recipe itself. If you want to print, the button is in orange at the top of the recipe. As always, I love to hear from all of you. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or to request a post topic on Facebook, Instagram or my new Twitter!