Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spicy Kale Mac & Cheese

I've been working pretty hard on various scientific writing exercises these days (grants, technology disclosures, presentations, and now an application) and when I write, I learned long ago that I do it best in the wee hours of the morning. Alone with a cup of coffee before the sun rises, I have a precious hour or two where nothing can distract me from my work. I've heard this is because your brain doesn't fully wake up until you've been awake for 90 minutes or so, which is great because it seems to be the ADD voices that plague me are the last to wake up in my brain.

Anyways, one day last week, I woke up early to do work. So instead of doing my ride first thing in the morning and braving the sub-freezing temperatures, I then had the lovely opportunity to go for a ride midday while the sun was shining. I was wearing my green fleece lined tights for warmth, and I couldn't help but feel like Peter Pan. By choosing to pursue a career path in academia, I feel like I've never had to grow up. (Since I know that at least one of my esteemed professional mentors occasionally reads this, don't worry! I paid for this little "recess" by needing to stay in lab until 10pm to finish my experiments.)

Some parts of childhood we have to leave behind. If we're lucky though, we get to take some parts with us as we grow and change. For me, macaroni and cheese is kind of like that! When I was little, my mom would regularly make us macaroni and cheese with real cheddar and paprika on top. Being a kid, I didn't have good taste, and would always ask for kraft instead. It wasn't until college, after many bowls of "Easy Mac" that I started to truly appreciate a good bowl of homemade mac & cheese. I've never been quite able to recreate her creamy sauce, even with the recipe, but today I'm sharing a delicious plant-based version that is super easy, deliciously creamy, and even boasts some kale and pumpkin to elevate this mac & cheese to a nutritional powerhouse. I normally use a cashew cheese sauce to go with the kale, but was cooking without a food processor in my fiance's kitchen when I discovered that pumpkin could do the trick! With all those antioxidants and cancer fighting flavenoids, who wouldn't love this mac & cheese?!

Spicy Kale Mac & Cheese

1/2lb whole wheat or brown rice pasta
1 package frozen kale
1/2c nutritional yeast
2/3c unsweetened, original soy milk
1/2c pumpkin puree
paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, and salt to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. In a large pot, add remaining ingredients. Cool kale over medium heat (or high if you're in a hurry!), stirring occasionally to help the flavors be absorbed and to prevent burning. The cheesy kale sauce should be done around the same time the pasta is. Serve sauce warm over the pasta with an extra dash of paprika as a garnish. Enjoy!

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