Sunflower Mac

My kids love mac n cheese just as much as anyone. And yes, sometimes they get the classic box with the scary orange powder cheese. (So easy to hand to a babysitter or DH!) But I have been attempting various forms of sneaky mac n cheese, with sauces made with cauliflower, cannellini beans, carrots and so on. One of the nicest ones I’ve tried comes from the Isa Does It vegan cookbook, using sunflower seeds as the main base for the sauce. It’s really creamy, and flavorful enough to please grownups too. This is also nut-free, so good for kids with allergies. And no cheese or butter!

This recipe makes more sauce than you’ll need, so you’ll have extra to put on your veggies or maybe mix with your rice later. Or serve this delicious recipe again the next day!

Sunflower Mac


1 cup unroasted and unsalted sunflower seeds (shelled), soaked in water for at least two hours

8 oz elbow macaroni or other small pasta

1 T olive oil

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/2 tsp salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 T cornstarch

1/4 nutritional yeast flakes

2 T tomato paste

1 T fresh lemon juice

Sweet paprika, for garnish


Submerge sunflower seeds in a bowl of water and soak for at least two hours, or overnight. Drain.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and then cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in the oil in a saucepan for about five minutes, then add the carrots and sauté at a medium low heat until they are slightly soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute more.

Place the mixture in a blender or food processor. Add the broth, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt and sunflower seeds. Blend until very smooth. This could take a long time depending on the power of your blender.

Transfer the sauce back to the saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and let cook, stirring often, until thickened. This should take about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.

Pour most of the sauce over the pasta. Mix it up and serve with a sprinkling of paprika over each bowl.

Isa says she likes to add tons of steamed kale to the top, and pour more sauce over that!


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