I expected to get a lot of questions from my friends and readers when I started on the 28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge. Things like “how will you get your calcium without drinking milk?” Hmm… well, I guess I’ll get it the way all other adult mammals do – through a well-balanced diet that includes lots of leafy greens. “Where will you get protein?” I dunno, let me go ask this 4.6 ton elephant where he gets his and I guess I’ll eat that. I only hope it’s enough to sustain my 5’2″ 115 lb body! Surprisingly, though, the two most commonly asked questions so far have been “WTF is nutritional yeast” and “WTF is hemp milk?” I don’t have sassy answers to those questions, so I’m going to answer them as seriously as I’m capable of.
Let’s start with yeast – mostly because it reminds me of Gentlemen Broncos, which makes me laugh. If you haven’t seen it yet, smoke some hemp milk and then watch it. It’s one of the best intentionally terrible movies you will ever see. Bonus: Then yeast will make you laugh too. Here’s some stuff you should know about nutritional yeast:
- Technically a fungus, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast grown on cane and beet molasses.
- The flavor is best described as nutty or cheesy, which also makes me laugh.
- Depending on the type you buy, it either looks like cornmeal or yellow flakes.
- Our New Zealand friends know it as Brufax. They also pronounce “aluminum” hilariously.
- Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, rich in B-complex vitamins and it makes you pee bright yellow.
Now that you’re basically a yeast expert, WTF do you do with it? Well, if you’re a good little vegan or vegetarian you’re probably already putting it in almost everything you eat. Because of its savory nature, nutritional yeast is great sprinkled into soups and stews, stir frys, in dips, on salads… I sprinkle it on popcorn for a cheesy flavor and use it like Parmesan on my pasta. Even if you’re not vegetarian, it’s a great flavor and nutrient boost to all of your food.
This week end we used a whole heap of nutritional yeast in a vegan mac and “cheese” recipe my husband has been talking about since I met him about 8 years ago. Its Eric Z’s mac n’ yeast, and it was worth the 8 year wait. We went for the classic elbow-shape so Teno would eat it, but rotini or anything else that grabs onto sauce would work too.
Vegan Mac n' Cheese
By May 24, 2011Published:
Our friend Eric owns Refuge Skate Shop in Detroit. He's an OG vegan who has been making this mac n' yeast since at least the early 90's. You can make this recipe with any kind of pasta you like - whole wheat, brown rice, plain old semolina.
- 1 lb macaroni
- 6 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2.5 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
- 2 cups nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon season salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Vege-Sal
- 1 pinch paprika
- 1 handful breadcrumbs I like whole wheat
- Preheat your oven to 350. Cook the macaroni half way (whatever time the package instructs, half it.) Drain and set aside.
- . In a saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly.
- Add boiling water and soy sauce or Bragg's, whisk until smooth and thick. Add nutritional yeast and whisk until completely smooth.
- Add seasonings and mustard -then mix 1/2 of "cheese" with the noodles - transfer to a casserole dish.
- Pour the remaining "cheese" on top and sprinkle with paprika and bread crumbs.
- Bake for 25 mins and finish in broiler until crispy and browned.
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In all of my 14+ years of on-again, off-again veganism I was way too straight edge to even consider it. Sure, hemp seeds don’t contain THC, the chemical that makes stoners awesome and stupid, but the idea of getting caught with a box of hemp milk on my way home from the store? Nope. Too crucial for that. Then I started reading about the many health benefits hemp seeds offer - Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, magnesium, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin – and I started to consider it as a viable alternative to soymilk, which I try not to consume too much of, and cow milk, which I find repulsive. (Not for any ethical reasons so much as the fact that it’s squeezed out of a COW. ::shiver::)
So after my Cooking with Greens class at Whole Foods last week I wandered around putting things in my cart that I knew Tony would make faces about: Coconut milk ice cream, Braggberry salad dressing and a box of Tempt hemp milk (unsweetened vanilla.) I was scared, I will admit. But I was determined not only to try hemp milk, but also to make my first green smoothie.
In the morning I threw some frozen mixed berries, a chunk of frozen spinach, a few pieces of frozen pineapple and some Tempt hemp milk into my blender. I took a shot of hemp milk first, determined not to let it’s foreignness ruin my drink – it was good. Pretty mild. So I hit puree. The blender seemed to be choking on the concoction, so being the genius that I am, I jabbed at the contents with a wooden spoon until it started whirring around. It looked like Satan’s vomit in a glass, but I gave it a try anyway.
It tasted like Satan’s vomit in a glass, but Tony had already stated that green smoothies were gross, so I stubbornly drank it anyway. It wasn’t until a few hours later when I was loading the dishwasher that I noticed a chunk missing from my bamboo spoon. It wasn’t in the blender and it wasn’t in my empty glass. What happened to my digestive system later in the day leads me to believe it was in my belly.
Anyway, I knew hemp milk was a-ok, so I wanted to give green smoothies another shot. (And I know there are true green smoothies – that actually look green, but mine are purple because I like berries. I do whatever I want, it’s part of my charm.) So the next morning I threw in another bunch of frozen berries, some pineapple, fresh organic baby spinach (a big handful) and some Tempt hemp milk. It was a little less sweet than I like it, so I drizzled in some agave and achieved pure smoothie happiness. I also replaced my crappy Kitchenaid blender with a Ninja, which has a cooler name and three big, scary blades, making for a much smoother smoothie.