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Engine 2’s Macaroni & Not Cheese

Engine 2Rip Esselstyn, former professional triathlete and firefighter, created The Engine 2 Diet, a plan of action for a heart-healthy, plant-strong diet. As the weather cools off, many of us start craving comfort food. One of my favorite meals growing up was a plate of frozen Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese, which I’d make myself whenever my parents went out to dinner. After cooking it in the oven for 30 minutes, I’d excitedly pull a stool up to our horseshoe-shaped kitchen island and dig in while watching my favorite television program: The Wild, Wild West. Pure decadence.

I now recommend this PlantStrong alternative instead — and keeping the television off! This Engine 2 Mac & Not Cheese can fill the void for old comfort food cravings. The cashews and lemon juice combine to provide a creaminess that you might not expect from a dairy-free dish. And the nutritional yeast will surprise you with its undertone of cheese flavor.

  • mac and cheese1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cashews
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 16 ounces whole grain elbow pasta, cooked
  • Recommended addition: 365 Everyday Value frozen peas

Preheat oven to 425°F. Sauté the onion over medium heat in a nonstick skillet for 5 minutes, until translucent. In a food processer, combine onion, cashews, lemon juice, water and salt. Gradually blend in the roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Thoroughly toss the sauce with the pasta. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

For more information about the benefits of living plant-strong, or to learn more about my 28 Day Health Opportunity, visit Engine2Diet.com.

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paig292 says …

@Julia I checked with Rip and he says he hasn't tried it with almonds or walnuts, but that you can certainly experiment. He also was wondering if maybe chickpeas or white beans would work as a substitute. Let us know if you try it!

Gina says …

What is the break down on this recipe? Fats/Carbs/Sugars. I don't see it listed here

Kathy says …

I am very glad to see WFM advocating a plant-based diet! Keep it going.

Linds says …

I can't wait to try this. My dairy-allergic daughter will be forever greatful!!!

Joe @ Eden Kitchen says …

Looks like a great recipe, will bookmark to try when the weather cools down in these parts. Thanks :)

Adrienne says …

This sounds great! I have made something similar before and would highly recommend soaking the cashews in water for at least 30 minutes to an hour before blending to increase the creaminess. Also adding a small handfull of pinenuts adds to the cheesiness! Yum!

Adam says …

you could try blanched almonds instead of the cashews

Isa says …

I like your modification of your comfort food. It's still your warm and fuzzy time, but now your doing it healthier! Great recipe!!

Julia says …

Is there another nut that would work instead of cashews? Aside from being allergic to dairy, I'm also allergic to cashews :( I was thinking almonds or walnuts? What would lend creaminess without an overpowering nutty flavor?

Jennifer J. says …

In the book, the recipe calls for 1/3 c. lemon juice, instead of 1/2 c. I made it as written above, and the lemon juice was overpowering.

Janet Romo says …

This is good. It can be a bit dry, however, so I recommend eating it with a big salad and possibly put a little fresh salsa on the Mac and Not Chs. I will make this again for sure.

Rich says …

This was delicious! Made it tonight and the kids ate it up. Thanks Rip!

Lauren says …

I have made this as well and it went over with a hit! decrease the lemon juice as someone else stated...also i doubled the liquid for a whole package of pasta....for those of us who need a little flavor I also added some salt free tony's seasoning to it!

Lisa says …

I made it on rainy today with 365 Whole wheat elbows. It was yummy, hearty, comfy food. There is so much that can be done with it such as top it off with some pico de gallo, sauteed shrooms or leftover veggies, a drizzle of ketchup or hot sauce. I like that I can keep a batch in the frig and the kids can heat it up for a snack whenever they raid the fridge looking for quickies. I will definitely try making it with chickpeas or white beans next time to see if I can cut back on some of that cashew lushness. I realize I just ate 1/4 cup of cashews (yikes). Thanks for yet another great E2 recipe, Rip.

Teresa McAllister says …

I have read Dr. Esselstyns book and the cookbook by Ann and Jane Esselstyn. My husband is on this diet for cardiac problems. I run across recipes that were probably done before the cookbook was published in 2014. The recipe above calls for cashews which I wouldn't be able to use. The guidelines for heart disease are No meat---dairy--oil or nuts--and limited salt and sweetener I find the recipes in the cookbook exotic and to large for 2 people.