get inspired: mac and 'cheeze'

hi food lovers,

today, February 11, 2017, marks the day that I am posting my very first original recipe, and I don't mind saying, it's a gooder!  I've been experimenting over the last several months with different non-dairy versions of one of my most favourite meals... mac and cheese.  there are tons of delicious recipes out there and I've taken the inspiration and combined my own flavours and come up with a recipe that I'm so thrilled to share with you.  spoiler alert: for me, the game changer has been in the spices and seasoning.

before I post the recipe, I have a little confession to make...I've had a long-standing self-limiting belief that cooking is stressful, hard, and that I'm no good at it.  this year, I am really committing to breaking through those limiting thoughts, and shifting the way I think about my ability to prepare and create food.  since I know I'm not alone in my thinking and that there are many of us out there who think we "can't cook", here are some tips that have really helped me:

1. find some inspiration.  whether it's an Instagram account or a food blogger, there are a ton of incredibly talented people out there who are doing amazing things with food and sharing it. there is, quite literally, inspiration around every (social media) corner.  if you have food allergies or sensitivities, this is one of the most exciting times to get really creative with your diet.  there are simply way more options than ever before.  be curious about new ingredients and techniques.  

2. be organized.  I'm finding a ton of joy in prepping meals on Sundays.  plan your meals ahead, grocery shop, and prepare what you can on Sunday.  if you have stuff ready to go during the week, it's so much easier to put your meals together.  this is especially helpful for those of us with limited time during the week.

3. shiny bright objects. find a beautiful cookbook that you really connect with, and start cooking your way through it.  I've been Julie and Julia'ing my way through Angela Liddon's, "Oh She Glows" cookbooks over the last few weeks.  I get a ton of joy from sitting down with my cup of coffee on Sunday morning and flipping through the glossy pages and looking at the beautiful photographs.  see point #1 above: #getinspired

4. create an enjoyable environment.  here's what I know: I work best in a clean kitchen!  before you dive into a recipe, start by organizing your space.  pull out your ingredients, measure your spices, use little bowls and cups.  sure, it's extra dishes, but it keeps you organized and in the flow.  plus you feel like a pro.  #miseenplace  

5. credit yourself.  if you've made changes to a recipe that turned out pretty amazing, write them down!  as you start to cook more and more, you'll notice your own style emerge and that there are common ingredients you like to put together.  this is you paying attention to what your body needs and likes.  manifest that inner wellness guru and chef!

6. believe in you.  Henry Ford once said "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." Pay attention to what you're telling yourself and let those doubts go. fake it 'til you make it!

7. have fun.  seriously.  you're preparing delicious food for yourself and/or your loved ones! if you catch yourself getting stressed, come back to your intention.  remember your perspective, and why you're doing it in the first place.  I also love to light a candle, put on my favourite apron, and a great podcast or playlist.  do what you need to do to keep yourself enjoying the moment.

and now, without further adieu, I give you... carrot tops are green mac and "cheeze"!

prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes
serves: 6


16 oz. elbow pasta (I use rice pasta for a gluten free option)
1 large cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
2 large carrots, washed and peeled if you wish, and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (and more if you wish!)
1/2 tsp salt (more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper (more to taste)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp dry mustard (don't leave this out!)
1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you wish)
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of water

optional: three generous handfuls of your favourite greens (spinach, arugula, or kale)*, 1 cup dried almond pulp leftover from your nut mylk or panko crumbs as a topping (preheat oven to 350 degrees)**


1. bring medium pot of water to boil, boil pasta according to package instructions, and set aside.  note: I like to slightly undercook my pasta as I prefer an al dente texture, and it helps if you're reheating leftovers later to avoid the mush.  also, if you're choosing to add a topping and baking, you'll definitely want to undercook the pasta a bit since it will cook a bit more in the oven. 

2. sautee the chopped yellow onion in the coconut oil.  once the onions are translucent and soft, add your spices (turmeric, dry mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper).  you might need to add a tiny bit of water to get all the bits stuck to the pan.  set aside.

3. while you're cooking the onion, bring large pot of water to boil, and boil cauliflower and carrots for 15 minutes or until soft, strain and set carrots aside

4. dump cauliflower back in empty pot and mash with a fork (yields about 4 cups)

5. scoop two cups of the mashed cauliflower into a vitamix or high-speed blender.  add carrots and onions and rest of ingredients.  blend on high speed until sauce is a creamy dreamy texture.  add a splash more water if too thick.

6. pour sauce over cooked pasta and add in remaining mashed cauliflower.  *you can also add in your favourite greens now, if you're choosing this option.  stir!  add more salt, pepper and nutritional yeast to taste.  garnish with your favourite fresh green herb! I love italian parsley.

7. **if you've chosen to add a topping, pour the mac and cheeze into a lightly oiled baking dish (I rub with a bit of olive oil) and sprinkle the dried almond pulp or panko crumbs and extra nutritional yeast over the pasta.  place in oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.

8. serve, smell, chew, savour, ENJOY! acknowledge the time and effort you spent, and the love you've infused into the dish.  

Why Non-Dairy?

traditional mac and cheese is such a delicious treat and I highly recommend indulging once in a while, if your mind, body and soul feel good eating dairy.  because dairy can cause inflammation in the body and slow down our digestion, it's great to throw in a plant-based version now and again, rather than totally going without.  plus, whether you do or don't eat dairy, getting curious about, and experimenting with, different ingredients to make traditional favourites is a really great way to connect with your food. 

I would love to know what you think if you try this recipe or if you found any of these tips inspiring!  please share your thoughts and photos and tag me on instagram or facebook and using the hashtag #carrottopsaregreen.

you're already a pro,