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Friday, August 2, 2013

Mac 'n Cheez --- Dr. Michael Holick, The Vitamin D Solution ---- Happy 3 years

Who doesn't want a mac 'n cheez recipe and it is one of the hardest to get 'right' on a vegan/plant-based diet.  Mac Not Cheese was one of the first vegan recipes I tried, Rip Esselstyn's recipe from Engine 2 Diet.  That is still on my 'go-to' list as is Christy Morgan's version from Blissful Bites.  Both of these have become well trodden recipes, but I was shopping with a friend recently who happened to show me a dry mix version at our local Whole Foods, and I may have happened to possibly note the ingredients (shhh!) on said version with the intent of creating something similar at home.

Anyway, I came up with something I think is an acceptable version.  It still needs some tweaking, but my husband said he likes this better than either of the two recipes I normally use, and having something to eat that he enjoys is very high on my list of priorities.

My first try went like this:

Dry Mix: 
Whole Wheat flour**:  2 T (1 1/2T)
Nutritional Yeast:         3 T
Potato Starch*:             2 T
Salt:                              1 t
Garlic Powder:             1/2 t (1/4 t)
Mustard Powder:         1/2 t (1/4 t)
Onion Powder:            1/2 t
(cayenne powder:        1/8 t)

(*I used potato starch as the ingredient I was replacing was a root vegetable starch so I reasoned this would be a better substitute than corn starch--corn being a non-root vegetable.  I actually think it wouldn't matter.  I happened to also have a ton of potato starch that I got at our Asian supermarket super cheap.
**I have made this using Garbanzo Bean flour instead of wheat flour and it was just as good).

In parentheses are the changes I am going to make next time I make this.  I believe I will continue to tweak it over time and will post anything earth-shattering here.  My husband likes things a little spicy, so I thought I would add in the cayenne, just a bit.  He did say that he thought this was a bit heavy on the garlic.  It would be very easy to double, triple, whatever the recipe and store in the frig to throw together very quickly.  I'll be putting it to the true test this weekend with my grand-daughter!

Here are the dry ingredients mixed together.

I heated up coconut milk and also tried a version with homemade almond milk.  The coconut milk was far superior, but it would be interesting to try purchased almond milk as my homemade version tends to have flecks of almond in it since I don't strain it and I think that affected the texture of the sauce.

Adding the dry mix to the milk.

Mine got very thick and I ended up adding a bit more milk to get the right consistency before adding on top of pasta.


I've been reading Dr. Holick's book, the Vitamin D Solution.  For some time I have suspected that I have low vitamin D levels and when I got my blood work done in May, it was confirmed that I have a Vit. D deficiency.  Up here in Ohio, we are lucky to see the sun even in the summer it seems this year, and I've learned a lot from Dr. Holick about just how our bodies make vitamin D and how vital it is to every cell in the body.  Dr. Holick believes we are suffering a pandemic of vitamin D deficiencies, and I find his logic to be very solid.  (Dr. H. knows a thing or two about Vit D having been the first person to identify the active form of vitamin D in the blood.  You can read an interview with him at this link and get a quick overview of the basics about Vitamin D, sun exposure, supplements, toxicity, etc.

We are very limited to what we can get from our diet in the way of vitamin D, and even meat-eaters getting their D by consuming foods are doing so because D has been added, which may or may not be adequate or even accurate as reported on the food labels, per Holick. 

I am also supplementing with Vit. D2 at least until I get my levels up to an acceptable range. I  prefer not to use supplementation, but living this far north may not give me another option.

To make things more complicated, we need calcium to properly utilize and absorb D, and this too can be problematic to get in our diet.  I've been solving the calcium problem by making a concerted effort to get my greens at every meal (here I am back to Dr. Fuhrman's advice to eat a pound or more of greens per day), and I am also aware of other foods that provide calcium and strive to get those foods in.

Sun exposure is important, especially during key times of the day, when UVB rays are at the right angle so that we can absorb what we need and contrary to the fright that has been put into us about avoiding the sun, we need this exposure to ensure good health.

I highly recommend reading Dr. Holick's book for an eye-opening education on the vital role of vitamin D.


July has come and gone and that is my anniversary month.....I celebrated 3 years on this fantastic journey and way of eating in 2013.  I am so very proud and feel as committed as ever to this lifestyle.  I'll do a celebratory give-away next week.  Happy Anniversary to me!

Til then....

Sue, getting all the sun I can and eating my greens, in Ohio


  1. Is there a suitable sub for whole wheat flour? I am trying to curb my daughter's cheese addiction- cheese is a food group for her. Mac and Cheese is her favorite but I haven't found a vegan version that passes the taste test and whole wheat flour can cause foods to taste bitter.

    1. Hi, I don't think the whole wheat flour is necessary at all. I think it was in the original to help with thickening. I just made this again last night and cut the flour in half, and next time I am going to make it without the flour and I will up the potato starch or use a combination potato starch/corn starch. GOOD LUCK!

  2. Love Mac & no cheese! Will have to give your recipe a whirl. I too struggle with low Vitamin D levels - 22nl even after almost a month vacation time at the beach and while taking Dr. Fuhrman's multi-vit that contains 2,000 mg. My physician has prescribed 5,000 a day. We'll see if that helps. I need it to absorb the calcium in my blood as I have thinning bones and wonder if this may be a primary reason! I've been plant strong a little over 2 years now.

    1. Hi Jude,
      Nice to hear from you and I am VERY interested in your Vit. D situation. I'm doing about 6,000 i.u. of D2/day and will retest soon (I was at 18). I do think we can struggle with absorption issues. I have noticed a few changes since I upped the greens, really going for much, much larger servings and doing the sprinkling of raw sunflower seeds (which also are a source of calcium). Let me know how you continue to do on this as time/interest allows. Dr. Holick does say that it can take time to correct. I heartily recommend the book....lots of great info in there. Congrats on your two years! Woo-hoo!

  3. I made your mac and cheese last how fast and easy. I didn't use the potato starch or the wheat flour. Instead I used a gluten free flour blend, which of course had starches in it...worked great. I do wish I could get past the strong taste of the nutritional yeast....something about it doesn't agree with me. Awesome recipe though!

    1. So glad you got to try it! I was thinking in place of the whole wheat flour to try some garbanzo bean flour---glad you tested a gluten free flour. Not sure what to do about the nutritional yeast flavor; I know some people really like it and others don't. Maybe play with the seasonings a bit. I'm going to use this as a sauce base and play with different combinations and use over veggies. Will post anything really good.