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Not your mama’s Mac and Cheese

A perfect fall comfort food to cozy up with as it gets colder
I love Mac and Cheese.
mac and cheese

I have such fond memories of eating my mom’s delicious, warm and creamy Mac and Cheese as a child! It was always one of my favourite meals and would always happily enjoy the leftovers the next day (even for breakfast!). This autumn, I was craving this old  classic that always reminds me of home!

I used to think that Mac and Cheese could have no part in a healthy lifestyle! But, why not? Okay, I know, the original home style Mac and Cheese that is full of cream, butter and tons of cheese – but can you really reinvent this old classic, cut out the cream, butter, and cheese, and still get the same warm, cozy tastiness of mac and cheese? Well, here goes nothing! πŸ™‚

ceara s kitchen

Just as a little side note, I think that when you eat something healthy that is trying to “mimic” another food you have to go in with an open mind. This is probably why I hated spaghetti squash when I tried it for the first time because I expected it to taste like my starchy spaghetti I was used to! So will this taste like creamy, cheddary pasta? What I can tell you is that it will give you the same cozy, warm feelings that the original gives you. Also, I “tested” this recipe on my boyfriend, did not tell him the secret ingredient and he gave his thumbs up! Living together he is the test subject for most of my recipes I whip up!

The two star ingredients in this recipe are pumpkin and cauliflower! Once, the sauce is done you will get a slightly savoury pumpkin flavour but you will not be able to taste the cauliflower at all! It adds a ton of creaminess to the sauce without all the cream. Why, pumpkin? Well, this is a Fall Mac and Cheese and it seems to work perfectly in this recipe. Anyone who has been in my kitchen lately knows that I seem to be sneaking pumpkin into everything lately (soup, bread, brownies, granola…). 

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Not Your Mama’s Mac and Cheese

  • Author: Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen
  • Total Time: 50


In this recipe I used frozen, diced pumpkin because that is what is available here in Belgium. It only needs about 5 minutes to cook. You can also use canned pumpkin if it is available to you or you can roast your pumpkin and scoop out the inside. I would still recommend cooking for about 5 minutes to amalgamate the flavours. No pumpkin? This recipe tastes great with butternut squash! If you use gluten-free pasta, this recipe is gluten-free. The sauce does not contain any gluten but the pasta I used here (spelt pasta) does.


  • 1 Yellow onion, diced
  • 3 Cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/8 cup veggie broth/water Veggie broth/water
  • 1/5 cup Milk of choice (I used soy)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Dash Salt and Pepper
  • Splash Hot Sauce
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, roughly chopped up into small pieces
  • 2 cups Pumpkin, diced (or 1 cup pumpkin puree)
  • 1 tsbp olive oil (optional)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs/panko (optional)


  1. In a medium size pot, sautee the garlic and onions, in the veggie broth or water, over medium-high heat, until slightly browned and most of the water is soaked up.
  2. Add the soy milk to the onion and garlic mixture.
  3. Add the spices and the cauliflower (add a splash more soy milk, if necessary for the cauliflower to be almost fully covered)
  4. While your sauce is cooking, in a separate large pot, cook the pasta until it is al-dente.
  5. Simmer the cauliflower over a medium-low heat until the cauliflower starts to get soft (around 10 minutes) *watch it closely! The milk quickly boils overs!
  6. Add the pumpkin to the cauliflower mixture and cook for about five more minutes* (see note)
  7. Take your cauliflower-and-pumpkin mixture off heat and puree with a blender until the sauce is creamy smooth (took me about 3 minutes with the hand blender!)
  8. Add the sauce to your pasta.
  9. Add one tbsp of olive oil, if desired, for an extra creamy taste to the pasta. (here, I tasted the pasta and added a few mores dashes of the spices above to taste!)
  10. Voila! You can enjoy your mac and cheese like this…
  11. Or, you can add it to a casserole dish, sprinkle it with breadcrumbs, and bake for about 20 minutes at 200ΒΊc or 380ΒΊf (watch it closely so it doesn’t burn!)
  12. Voila! Eat and enjoy your yummy, creamy, mac and cheese!


  • This Mac and Cheese is fantastic the next day! (who doesn’t love left-over mac and cheese?) I sauteed onion, garlic, mushrooms, spinach and shredded carrot and added it in the next day to my serving of Mac and Cheese and it was delicious!
  • Prep Time: 20


  • Serving Size: 8
 What kind of pasta did you use? I used spelt pasta in this dish.
veggie broth water
In Belgium, they usually put pumpkin in savoury soups – using it in sweets is unheard of! Growing up in Canada I enjoyed it in sweet pumpkin in pie, bread and cake (just to name a few!) 
How do you take your pumpkin?

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  2. Your mama wants you to make this for her when you come home at Christmas! Can’t wait to try this one. My mac and cheese is hard to beat! But this looks far healthier.

    1. Hehe, your Mac and Cheese is divine mama and hard to beat! This one is maybe a tad better for you though πŸ˜‰ Can’t wait to make it for the fam when I’m home!

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