Creamy, cheesy, and secretly healthy pumpkin mac and cheese.
I’ve probably mentioned more than once on this blog how much I love macaroni and cheese.
I grew up on my Italian grandmother’s homemade version (seriously the best comfort food ever), and I also really loved both Velveeta and Kraft Mac and Cheese.
My dad would make it with extra milk so there was twice as much cheese sauce, and I called it “cheese soup.”
It was one of my favorite Sunday lunches.
Also Try This Cauliflower Mac And Cheese
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For as long as I can remember, I have always chosen pasta over everything else.
Even when I’d find myself at a steak or seafood restaurant as a child, my first move would be to scan the menu for mac and cheese.
(Outback Steakhouse makes a surprisingly good mac and cheese. Who knew?!)
Healthy Pumpkin Mac And Cheese
In this healthier take on mac and cheese, pumpkin stands in for the heavy cream, cutting way back on the calories and fat while giving you over 200% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A!
There are just 6 ingredients needed to make the sauce, and you can put it over anything you wish – pasta, rice, veggies, spaghetti squash (see how to cook spaghetti squash), quinoa—or eat it straight from the bowl with a spoon.
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
- 2 cups pureed pumpkin or roasted butternut squash
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more if desired
- 2 tbsp butter, such as Earth Balance or Smart Balance Light, OR 2 tbsp olive oil and a little extra salt if needed
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 1 cup shredded cheese, such as Follow Your Heart or Daiya OR 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- whatever you wish to go with your sauce (macaroni, quinoa, spaghetti squash, rice, veggies, etc.)
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe: Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a complete boil. Lower the heat, and stir until the buttery spread and shredded cheddar melt completely. I add a little extra salt, but taste and season to your preference. Sauce thickens as it cools and is much thicker the next day. Makes about 3 cups sauce. I cooked 8 oz dry macaroni for this recipe.View Nutrition Facts
Have you made this recipe?
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Emily @ Hazelnuts and Bolts says
Wow, this is so creative! Pumpkin mac and cheese sounds like one of those combos that you never would have thought up on your own but once you realize how good it is you can’t live without it! 😛
Nicola Miller Editor of The Millers Tale says
Well…..not one I’d have ever thought of for sure. Probably why you are the food blogger and I am not. I’m unsure whether to dare try this as not the biggest fan of the graininess of pumpkin puree. Is it grainy?
Nope, not grainy at ALL! It’s wonderful!
Danielle @ Chits and Chats and Chocolate says
Ooh this looks fantastic! Would it work to use butternut squash puree instead on the pumpkin?
I’ve done that! It’s delicious and extremely savory when using butternut squash. A definite go!
I also grew up on Mac & Cheese. During my 3 years in high school I ate the Morton Mac & Cheese that came in tins every single night after school. No Lie!! My mother bought them by the case and I had either one or two every night until I graduated. If I ever did deviate from the mac & cheese, I would eat french fries. But that was rare. Love Love Love cheese and it was hard to give up when I went vegan. (I do still occasionally cheat when I find some really good organic cheese) But, giving up the mac & cheese was my only hard spot in going vegan. So delic!
Love your story! So cute!
Amanda @ Slimplify Life says
I need this in my life. THANK YOU!
Yum! Pinning this one.
Carrie (This Fit Chick) says
This looks so creamy and delicious! What a creative use of pumpkin, Katie!
Hi Katie, does this taste like pumpkin? I have 2 picky kids and would love more ways to incorporate veggies into meals. Thank you so much for all you do!
I couldn’t taste the pumpkin at all. It just tasted creamy and cheesy! I’d cut down on the salt next time, but thats it.
AM I?! Actually, I wouldn’t eat mac and cheese if it WASN’T Kraft, haha. And if you made me the ones with the Pokemon shaped-noodles, I was yours forever. My twin sister and I are famous for being “pasta only” people; whenever we’d go out to a restaurant, we would never order anything other than mostacholli. Spaghetti, yes, but there was something more delectable about the spyglass noodles. And the day we discovered Noodles and Company at ten years old….our lives were changed for the better!
Unfortunately now that I’m GF, pasta is an at-home specialty that I rarely have time to make, so now when we eat out, I’m famous for ordering a salad rather than pasta. Oh….sniff….how I miss thee, greasy spoon marinara….
Gavin Larsen says
No, I detest mac ‘n’ cheese, but this recipe sounds so good I might actually try it! Now, if you can get me to like macaroni and “cheese”, you can give yourself a big pat on the back because many people have tried, but none succeeded. 🙂
Lindsey @ SimplyLindsey says
I loveeee mac n cheese! The best mac n cheese I’ve ever had is at Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town Alexandria. It’s made with smoked gouda and prosciutto and served in a cast iron skillet! 🙂
That sounds ridiculous!
Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl says
This sounds SO fantastic! I love pumpkin in my mac and cheese and I am excited for this vegan version 🙂
Oh my! I love pumpkin and I love mac and cheese, I can only imagine i’d love these two together.
This sounds delicious! I absolutely love mac and cheese but usually avoid it because of the calories and lack of nutrition, but I cannot wait to try this! I’m going to make it this Friday and then if I like it, might add it to the Thanksgiving menu 😉
It depends on the mac and cheese… Kraft or other brands with lots of gloppy cheese sauce are absolutely disgusting to me, but I love my mom’s homemade kind. 🙂
Firstly, AOTD: YUS!!!!!!
Secondly, I’m sorry if this is a really silly questions, but I was reading your nutrition info and i thought it was really low for mac and cheese including the noodles. Is it just for the sauce or for 1/2 of a cup including noodles?
Finally, Your recipe looks amazing as always and I, along with everyone else, really appreciate the thought you put into them to make them healthy and delicious! Thank you!!
Wow I can’t wait to make this even though the weather is warming up over here. I adore mac and cheese but I never have it because it’s just fat and carbs! Now I have a healthy version! Thank you !!
Ok, I’ve never tried vegan mac and cheese but this sounds like such a good/interesting flavor combo! I have some brown rice elbows waiting in my pantry… This’ll have to happen soon 😉
This looks so simple and delicious! Pumpkin recipes are my favorite (especially this time of year). Can’t wait to try this!
This looks really good!
Heather Mason says
woa, what a crazy combo! I feel like it would have a weird flavor with the pumpkin, but your recipes have never disappointed in the past so I’m going to try it! Thanks Katie!
Adele Hebert says
Oh My Goodness, this is the BEST Mac n Cheese EVER!!!!! Thank you sooooo much.
jenna @ just j.faye says
I love mac and cheese, but never eat or make it unless I’m up for a huuuggee splurge. This is definitely something I could make and feel satisfied with minus all the guilt. I will have to try it out!
Kim Reid says
I am in India at the moment and we have curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner! And i am over it. I am going to the city and get pasta and cheese and i am going to add sauted onion and green chilli, in pure mustard oil and perhaps some indian spice! I cannot wait. So i am going to have curry again!!
I adore mac & cheese! I’ve never had the dairy kind, but all the vegan recipes I’ve tried so far have been delicious. I can’t wait to try this pumpkin version, as pumpkin/squash is my favourite fall veggie!
Jules @ WolfItDown says
I love the vibrant colour of this, and I can only imagine it tastes deeeelicious 😀 x
Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen says
No judgement whatsoever Katie! KD was one of my fav. meals growing up 🙂 I love your lightened up pumpkin version! Can’t wait to try 🙂
Katie, I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, except I sprinkled in some pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne at the very end for a little more zip of flavor. Very yummy! Even my skeptical boyfriend loved it – he even wolfed it down faster than me! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.
omg, katie, you brought this out at just the right time for me! i love mac n cheese (have loved the kraft version in the past, as well, and used to doctor it up with veggies), but lately have been into the dairy free/soy free/gluten free version that is available in the frozen food section. i’ve been wanting to get “off” of that, but didn’t know how to create a healthy version of it for myself. your recipe sounds delicious and perfect! i love pumpkin, too, so that will be a great addition! and i’ve been wondering how i’ll use the nutritional yeast i bought. i love the suggestion of putting the sauce over quinoa or veggies (or both)! i am totally making this one, and i can’t wait. thank you so much!
Just whipped this one together with butternut squash and nutritional yeast. It is savor and delicious. I think it would be the perfect dish to take to a fall family gathering. Also added onion flakes and diced cherry tomatoes for zazz. Thanks for the recipe!
Food world, Katie’s gone and done us a solid. The pumpkin is an excellent substitute for cream in a mac n cheese roux. I found it delightfully smooth and satisfying, not too pumpkiny but all the right flavours. Eating this is like consuming victory.
11/10, would definitely nom again.
Librarian Lavender says
Yes, I’m a fan, great recipe!
I made this with butternut squash and served it over steamed veggies. Amazing!! This is a staple in my rotation…I used nutritional yeast. Yum!
I made this tonight, AMAZING! I added breadcrumbs and baked it for a bit too, I’m a fan of baked mac! It was a hit, thanks!
Just made this and it is SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! I sauteed onions and garlic first and then followed the recipe. It didn’t feel like just another alternative to mac & cheese but a healthy AND scrumptious delight where I didn’t even miss the full-fat version.
Lisa @bitesforbabies says
I just made a huge batch of mac n’ cheese the other day…’tis the season, lol! I added caramelized onions, pancetta, mozzarella, Parmesan and nutmeg and thyme. My kids loved it! I’d love for you to check out my recipe: http://www.bitesforbabies.com/recipes/pumpkin-pancetta-mac-ncheese/
Linda @ the Fitty says
I think you’re an absolute genius for thinking of this, Katie. I also associated pumpkin with sweet things but you proved it to not necessarily be true!
Is there a way I could make a low carb version of this?
I made this not reeeeeeally expecting it to be incredible, but I turned out very, very surprised! It was similar to the moment after I tried out your chocolate chip pancakes for the first time. So, so, so surprisingly incredible! (by others’ recommendations, I added to the other ingredients a dash of nutmeg and en equal amount of onion powder as garlic powder) Thanks so much for this staple recipe, Katie!
Hi! My name is Maria, and I am the editorial assistant at KrisCarr.com. We are stepping up our recipe game at KrisCarr.com, and we would love to feature your recipes regularly on the website (with credit and link to you, of course).
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For those who are wondering, this doesn’t taste like pumpkin! I used Daiya cheddar and the sauce mostly tastes like that, but the pumpkin makes it super creamy. This recipe is a keeper for sure!
Sarah Walker says
This is the best thing to happen in my life haha. I missed Mac ‘n’ cheese so much, this tastes heavenly. Thank you!
I made this tonight and put it over roasted delicata squash and cauliflower. Amazing.
My family camps a lot, and when I was pretty young, we got our first travel trailer with a stove, my mom would take box macaroni and cheese, since it was quick and easy to make. She would put ham cubes in it, making it one of our favorite treats on camping trips.
I made this with tofutti cream cheese and it turned out very smooth and yum! I from Australia and it’s very difficult to get any vegan cheese except tofutti.
Katie, I LOVE your blog because your recipes are delicious, easy, healthy, and most importantly vegan! I’m wondering why in the “You might also like” section you have links to non vegan recipes from other websites.
Unofficial CCK Helper says
Those are ads that are automatically generated from her ad network.
i tried this recipe and did the arithmetic of the proportions of the ingredients for a single serve microwave version. once again katie, you are very spot on when it comes to a healthy combination of ingredients which is easily adaptable for a single serve. thanks. here is the link to how i made the microwave single serve version including how to cook the single serve pasta in the microwave.
Katie, you indicated that you have always have had a difficult time finding good vegan Mac n cheese dishes. You also referred before to Isa Chandra M., vegan recipe developer extraordinaire. Have you possibly tried her roasted red pepper Mac n cheese, that according to raving reviews, tastes like pizza?
drool-fest!! …so going to make this!!
Cheryl Anne Tan says
Hi! Has anyone tried this with cottage cheese instead of cheddar shreds?? 🙂 I’d like to give this a shot really really soon with home-made pumpkin puree.
Jennifer Bonnell says
Hi! This recipe looks absolutely delicious. However, I’m sensitive to certain dairy and am not able to handle milk. I was wondering if you thought this recipe would be okay with almond milk. I hope so, because I love pumpkin and want to make it soon. Thanks for your help, and your delicious recipes! One of the desserts will be making an appearance at my family’s Thanksgiving next weekend, but don’t tell anyone (either the Pumpkin fudge balls or chocolate peanut butter brownie bites). 😉
Unofficial CCK Helper says
Milk of choice means whatever milk you wish to use. I know Katie is partial to almond milk in her recipes. She does not eat dairy either.
So tasty! I added some basil to mine to give it more flavor 🙂
I tried this with nutritional yeast tonight. I am not going to totally write off the recipe though as I am going to try it again w/Daiya. (I thought I had Daiya but we didn’t have enough
I just made this and it is THE BEST vegan cheese sauce I have ever made. Incredible
I made this and doubled the cheese and garlic powder. Omg
Doubled the recipe for a party and it was devoured! Cooked for critical group who are predisposed to not liking allergy friendly recipes but massive success. And my new favorite version of the recipe!! Made several and this is the easiest and tastiest. I fried some sage in earth balance, mixed into gf panko and spread on top, baked for additional 20 mins for a crunchy topping. So yummy!!
Just want to say I only recently came across your blog, tried this recipe yesterday and… Speechless. It was absolutely delicious! Not to mention so much lighter than normal mac and cheese (though I did use half fat cheddar instead of the vegan stuff). A really inspired recipe that my boyfriend and I have already decided we need to eat again… maybe tomorrow 😉
Wow…this recipe is awesome! I used Butternut squash purée….allergic to pumpkin. Amazing…thank you Katie!
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Tried this recipe over the holidays and it was the BEST mac and cheese I’ve ever had! From a former mac lover and current health conscious cook, WOW. Everyone needs to try this. The first savory recipe I’ve tried from Chocolate Covered Katie. So yummy. Thanks!
Holy Cow! I love mac & Cheese and I love pumpkin! I can’t wait to try this! It looks so creamy! I have tried so many healthy versions of macncheese that were just blah. This sounds fantastic! I can’t wait!
I just made this for lunch using nutritional yeast and it was so delicious! Even my husband really liked it and he normally doesn’t like pumpkin/squash based recipes because he thinks they are too sweet. Thanks for the great recipe!
Hi Katie! Can this sauce be frozen? I made it and loved it – but my boyfriend didn’t – and now I have a ton of leftovers 🙁
Does anyone know how many cups the 125 g serving size would equal? We dont measure that way here, and I dont have a kitchen scale 🙁
113 g is 1/2 cup.
tammy Fontana says
I loved this recipe my son unfortunately gaged and couldn’t eat it lol so not quite kid proof
Lauren Berberich says
This recipe was yummy. I added bbq seasoning, broc, sun dried toms, and did a three cheese blend (park, cheddar, asiago) plus nutritional yeast.
Yum! Just tried it. I needed a quick dinner for tonight, but needed something healthy. I was dubious. I like pumpkin, I like mac and cheese…but together? I’ve heard of adding butternut squash to mac and cheese for picky kids, but not pumpkin. I was so glad I tried it. It’s delicious and it came together quickly. It took me longer to shred the cheese than it did to make the sauce.
I used sharp cheddar (all I had on hand, and I’m a native Vermonter), cut down on the salt, and added a fair bit of pepper. I plan to bring some for lunch tomorrow and might try steaming some broccoli to mix in it. Definitely going into my dinner rotation.
Freakishly good. I made the sauce and served it over homemade vegan bread, with sliced tomatoes, as a kind of vegan Welsh rabbit. Really, really delicious, and perfect on a cool fall evening.
This sauce is FANTASTIC!!!! So perfect for the pumpkin season!!! Thank you so much Katie!! Will be making this again!!
Sarah Bishop says
I recently made this for a fall-themed potluck at work. I made it the night before and reheated it in the morning on low in my crock pot- worked just fine. I doubled the recipe and used a can of pumpkin and a can of squash just because I already had those in my cupboard. I also added a squeeze of brown mustard because I was missing the “tang” of a regular mac and cheese made without pumpkin/squash. Delicious! I look forward to adding it to my permanent recipe repertoire.
Lisa Cote says
This was really good, and unique. I thought my toddler would love it, but as I’m really the one with the love affair with mac and cheese, it made sense that I’d enjoy it the most. Thank you!
This is our absolute favourite recipe, EVER!!!!!
We like it so much, that I’ve erased all other saved Mac & Cheese recipes. ?
The only thing I add is Dijon mustard to taste. YUM!!!!!
Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!
Had it for lunch today!
Courtney K says
I made this with the nutritional yeast instead of the cheese and it was delicious! I’ll definitely be making his again.
I was wondering: since butternut squash and sweet potato can often be substituted for pumpkin in recipes, would that perhaps work in here? Only because I live in a place of the UK that is so mundane, I can only find pumpkin (tinned) from one place, and it’s a bit too expensive for me to get..
I am the only one in our household who loves all things pumpkin. That said, we ALL adore this recipe! Makes a fabulous meal on a cold winter’s night. Even my little ones are asking for more. As usual… genius, Katie!
R. T. says
This recipe turned out super delicious! My two year old is lactose intolerant and had never previously experienced mac & cheese. She was SO excited about her “baby cheese” as she called it. Plus, what mama doesn’t love sneaking in some veg?! We will definitely be making this one again. We did sneak in a little extra cheese, though. 😛
Ok. So it’s different. I reminds me more of baked ziti then anything else. Maybe bc i used shredded cheddar. Next time i plan on using block of cheddar and melting it first in the milk and butter and then adding pumpkin. It’s all stretchy. I added broccoli and used real butter.
And added extra milk and cheese….accidentally? So it stretched further I think. I don’t know. It still tastes pretty good. I may try it again.
But it definitely does not taste like traditional mac n cheese, so fair warning.
I’m going to try the vegan version tonight but since I’m avoiding concentrated fats, I will leave out the oil. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
This is amazing! I used nutritional yeast and a couple of slices of Daiya provolone (I did not like it so this is a good way to use it up). I also added some black pepper and some Turmeric paste (I add that to almost everything I can because it’s anti
-inflammatory). The noodles are cooking, but I don’t know if there will be any sauce left. So fast and easy!
Just a general question (that could apply to this recipe) – can nutritional yeast powder be used instead of nutritional yeast flakes, and if so, how much should be used? Thanks!
This came out great!! Can’t really taste the pumpkin, which is great! Thank you!
This is amazing !! I used nutritional yeast, olive oil, and Ripple milk. The pumpkin and cheesy flavor work great together, and I topped my dish off with basil.
Just made this recipe! I did not have Daiya shreds, so I had to use nutritional yeast which I think benefits from some modifications to tone the pumpkin down a little bit and up the “cheese” flavor (I’m sure with the Daiya shreds, these modifications wouldn’t be necessary! but I figured I would share in case anyone else is using nooch).
I did one can pumpkin, one cup unsweetened soy milk, 3/4 cup nooch, light smart balance butter, and garlic powder and salt as recipe states. I blended this in blender, but also I added a splash of lemon juice, some Dijon mustard, a tsp of vegetable bouillion and about 1-1.5 tsp of red miso paste (and just a small handful of vegan parm). Then I heated this over the stove as directed. Just before my pasta was done (I used rigatoni), I added a splash of good quality EVOO to the pumpkin cheese sauce before mixing with the drained pasta. YUM thank you for the excellent recipe Katie!
i loooove love love mac and cheese but i cant take cow milk anymore… Would plant based milk work? (my tummy is totally fine with cheese tho!)
Jason Sanford says
This blog is actually vegan, so all recipes are tested with plant based milk 😉
Katie likes almond or cashew milk usually, but use your favorite!
Just made a double batch of this, and it’s so delicious – thank you! I used your recipe as a base and made the following changes to suit my taste: used a blend of Swiss gruyère + monterey jack, added nutmeg (really compliments the pumpkin! I used butternut), and almond milk. I’m so happy that I have exciting freezer meals ready to go!
Forgot to add that I also added in some onion powder – extra flavour!
This is really delicious, I have made it many times.
I received this recipe via email yesterday, opened it today and realized I have all the ingredients to make right now (nutritional yeast instead of vegan cheese). What a delicious lunch! I added some frozen peas to the pasta while cooking and diced seitan to the cheese sauce after cooking before mixing everything together. I’m already looking forward to eating the leftovers later!
Jason Sanford says
Adding peas sounds fantastic. I’m going to make it that way too 🙂
Your new pictures look great! I haven’t made this kind in forever 🙁 It’s fantastic, too! I may need to rekindle the love this weekend.
I just made this and it was wonderful. I was a little skeptical, but since I love pasta I just had to try. So glad I did.
Do you leave it in the fridge overnight to thicken or out on the counter?
Jason Sanford says
Definitely fridge, as it’s made of perishable ingredients.
Looking so yummy!!
Could you please tell us how to make chocolate pasta?
I made this last night and it was way too much sauce for the 8oz dry macaroni that you said you used (I did the same thing. I used brown rice spiral noodles). I ended up making 24oz and it was still way too much sauce! I think 40oz dry macaroni would have been the right ratio. I would describe it as a ‘Creamy, Savory, Pasta’ side dish. We were glad it didn’t taste like pumpkin. I added more cheese. It tasted good, but I think the title had me expecting a taste more akin to Daiya mac n cheese or the frozen dairy-free, gluten-free ones. Very creative!
Ok, just added whole grain Dijon mustard like another reviewer said and WOW—so good! It does add that tang like regular Mac n cheese. I ended up using a 16oz package of Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli in total and that was perfect. I used pumpkin. Thanks for this recipe…it’s a keeper! I would share a pic but it’s gone LOL!
Mac and cheese soup! I use to have my mom add extra milk to Mac and cheese too! Whenever I have an itch to eat something nostalgic I’ll always turn to ‘Mac and cheese soup’ lol. Our variation also had frozen peas. Btw I loved your recipe for pumpkin sauce. So creamy and delicious.
I have made a similar squash-based mac n cheese by cooking and pureeing butternut squash . . . but pumpkin is way easier cause you just open a can! Why didn’t I think of that?
This is so simple and easy. I will say that it’s not super cheesy but it does have less cheese than my usual mac n cheese recipe–maybe I will add more next time. Either way it tastes good! Thanks for the recipe!
CCK Media Team says
Thank you so much for making it!
Ellen Veltri says
Just made this for the first time. DELICIOUS. I used a combo of nutritional yeast and cheddar, used almond milk, and Earth Balance buttery spread. I also added some red pepper flakes and peas. It’s on the regular rotation! Thanks Katie!
Shalini Adams says
Made this today! It was awesome 😋 didn’t think I’d like it this much
Kat - the other 1 says
Finely grated or pureed carrot also works. 🙂
(Instead of pumpkin.)
I use the nutritional yeast version.
Onion powder instead of garlic, (allergy) a little mustard or dry mustard, a large pinch paprika, small pinch nutmeg, and a large pinch no salt chicken or veggie bullion. Whether using pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, or squash, those spices seem to help create a “cheesy” like flavor. 🙂
So easy and really good🙌
Carolyn Cooper says
Did I miss something !!!! You said how to cook the cheese sauce but there’s no info about putting this and macaroni and pumpkin together, confused.
I love this recipe and was wondering, can I freeze it in individual servings?
CCK Media Team says
Hmm we have never tried it… most likely you can, just the sauce will be a little less creamy. Be sure to report back if you try it!
This is such a good recipe! I made a vegetarian lasagne and used this pumpkin sauce in place of traditional bechamel and it was so taste. Proper 10/10, I recommend this recipe to anyone who likes Mac and cheese or has a picky toddler that could use a few more veggies in their diet
CCK Media Team says
Your lasagna idea sounds fantastic!
I made the pumpkin version with nooch and used cauliflower instead of pasta and lemme tell you! This was delicious! Surprisingly savory! I didn’t cook mine long enough so it was a little loose but overall, delicious!
CCK Media Team says
Your cauliflower version sounds delicious.
Sooooo good! I added some soaked cashews to my almond milk and blended for cheesier taste then the fresh pumpkin puree. Also, sautéed pressed garlic in vegan butter for about a minute before adding everything else. I can’t wait to try this on guests.