A Healthy Twist on an Old Favorite

Last week the Vibrant Health Alliance had our annual Holiday shindig. We always do these as a potluck and invariably we always have an amazing, beautiful meal made even better because we are all so excited to get to nourish each other. My husband was having a hankering for macaroni and cheese, but we have some folks who avoid dairy in the group so I decided to make an allergen-free, vegan version. This casserole resembles traditional mac and cheese only in that it’s as bright yellow and creamy as the processed cheese version, but the flavor is unique and delicious and the recipe is far simpler than traditional cheese sauce. WInter squash is high in fiber and carotenes which convert to vitamin A in the body, and the fats in coconut milk give a wonderful boost to the immune system.

Serves 8
Macaroni and Coconut Squash sauce (aka Macaroni No-Cheese)
2 lbs Winter Squash (I used kabocha, butternut would be great too)
1 lb Brown Rice penne or elbow noodles (I use Tinkyada brand)
1/2 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices gluten-free (or regular) bread
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half, lay cut side down in a baking dish, and pour 1/4 inch of water in the dish. Bake about 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool. While the squash is baking, boil pasta according to directions on the package. Drain. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop flesh into a food processor and puree. Add garlic, tarragon, coconut milk, and salt and pepper and puree. Mix with noodles and place in a 9X11 baking dish. Place bread in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes until it is dry and hard; process into crumbs in food processor. Add the oil to the crumbs and process until fully incorportated. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly.
Have a delicious, healthy holiday!