Being vegan doesn’t have to mean giving up your childhood favorites. If you have the knowledge, you can continue to eat the comfort food you love with just a few tweaks! Luckily, Willow is here to bring all the expertise of mouthwatering vegan cooking to your kitchen.
Rather than throwing out your favorite recipe, keep it fresh with the addition of these nutritious, vegan ingredients!
At Willow in NYC every dish is homey and familiar, then elevated with unique flavors and upscale presentation. We’re taking relatable American food and turning it on its head—then making it vegan!
Vegan Mac and Cheese Base
Before experimenting, you’ll want to start with your favorite vegan mac and cheese recipe.
While there are a variety of ways to make a basic vegan mac and cheese, most recipes call for a base of blended cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, water, and a mix of seasonings. The blended cashews create a smooth, creamy texture, while the nutritional yeast flakes provide that “cheesy” flavor typically associated with this dish. Popular seasonings often include turmeric (for color), garlic, and mustard powder.
Regardless of how you make your vegan mac and cheese base, you’re almost guaranteed to love the way that flavor combines with any of the ingredients listed below!
Following a vegan diet doesn’t mean making sacrifices; it means making substitutions!
Just as so many people enjoy the salty, crisp contrast bacon makes with the creamy wholesomeness of traditional mac and cheese, you can enjoy the same benefits with vegan bacon. For maximum crunch and reduced grease, we recommend baking your vegan bacon in the oven rather than using the typical frying-pan method.
Simply select your favorite vegan bacon, follow the cooking directions on the pack, and chop up the finished product into bite-sized pieces. Mix these into your vegan mac and cheese, and enjoy the additional “bite” it brings to your old favorite!
This classic recipe doesn’t always have to lean into salty, cheesier flavors. For a fun switch, provide an extra dose of subtle sweetness with butternut squash!
Star tby dicing your butternut squash and roasting the pieces in the oven. Though it’s possible to eat butternut squash raw, the cooking process enhances the flavor and texture. Once your pieces have reached a light, golden brown, you have two options: blend the squash into your sauce or mix whole into your mac and cheese.
When blended, this squash will create a thicker, heartier sauce. If you choose to keep the pieces whole, however, you can enjoy the pop of flavor in a whole new way.
What’s more, butternut squash is nutrient-dense, containing 100% of your recommended vitamin A and 40% of your necessary vitamin C. Health-conscious diners will appreciate this healthy take on the classic vegan mac and cheese.
This option might seem a little offbeat, but hear us out. To elevate your vegan mac and cheese into the unexpectedly perfect comfort food, try adding pureed pumpkin in place of cashew butter for a creative take on an old classic.
Though pumpkins have become associated with fall drinks and sweet treats, they are vegetables! Much like butternut squash, pumpkins can provide a major nutritional boost to an otherwise dense meal.
If you’re feeling extra creative, try adding a dash of cinnamon to your mac and cheese for a twist your dinner guests will surely love!
While delicious, any mac and cheese can be rich. To increase the nutrition without adding excess calories to this dish, try mixing some chopped, baked cauliflower florets!
Cauliflower is incredibly low in calories and carbohydrates, making it popular among many following a heart-healthy diet. For an even healthier take on vegan mac and cheese, try substituting the pasta entirely, using cauliflower florets instead.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, you’ll simply love the flavor. Cooked cauliflower is a fairly common addition to vegan mac and cheese. The mild flavor that pairs perfectly with the cashew base, enhancing the flavor without distracting from the classic taste.
Enjoy your Favorite Vegan Comfort Foods at Willow
When you’re craving culinary comfort but don’t have time to cook, leave the work to the experts! Here at Willow in NYC, we pride ourselves on delicious, creative options completely free of meat or animal products.
Check out just a few of our new takes on comfort food classics:
- Cheeseburger Sliders: enjoy meatless sliders complete with lettuce, tomato, “cheddar,” and pickles served on a brioche bun.
- Eggplant Lasagna: you’ll adore this hand rolled lasagna made with roasted eggplant, herb “ricotta,” Impossible meat, marinara sauce, “mozzarella,” and fresh herbs.
- Buttermilk Fried Chick’n: savor this elevated classic, served with avocado, romaine, pickles, cabbage slaw, and horseradish aoli on a brioche bun.
When your favorite comfort foods start to seem repetitive, Willow’s cruelty-free menu brings a level of creativity even omnivores are bound to love! Just glance through our options to be inspired by how delicious vegan versions of old favorites can be.