Chef Mommy’s Fancy Mac

Chef Mommy’s Fancy Mac

In our family, we have a kids’ book called “Barbie 5-minute Stories,” and the theme of the book is “You Can Be Anything!” In one story, Barbie wants to be a chef, because she is inspired by her favorite food truck, which serves “Chef Halle’s Fancy Mac.” She tries to make her own version of the dish, and it’s a disaster. She realizes she needs more knowledge about cooking and ingredients, so she goes to the food truck to talk to Chef Halle and ask for help.

What we love about this story is that 1.) Barbie is brave enough to ask for help when she needs it. And 2.) Chef Halle offers to teach Barbie the recipe if she comes to help volunteer to cook at the local Senior Center with her (a great example of community service). This story shows our two daughters that a dream is never inaccessible (even for us adults!), if you just keep asking for help and always keep learning. And there’s nothing better than a story that shows women helping women. As a mom, I love reading these stories to my girls to show them that they can literally do ANYTHING they want to do in life. They’ve just got to be bold enough to make it happen for themselves, be willing to make mistakes, and be relentless in their pursuits.

Every time we read this story, my kids are always like: “CAN WE HAVE SOME MACARONI AND CHEESE TODAY?!?!” So, I worked on a version that I felt good about, that fits into our Vegan/Plant-Based/Whole Foods/Oil-Free lifestyle. It’s absolutely delicious, and the adults love it just as much as the kids do. Hope you all love it too.


1 16 oz. box of Whole Grain Pasta
1 cup Cashews
1 medium White Onion, chopped
¼ cup Lemon Juice
3 tsp. Salt
½ cup (heaping) of Roasted Red Pepper (jarred in water, drained - about 4 oz.)
4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Onion Powder
½ tsp. Turmeric
¼ tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 ⅔ cup Water (fresh/filtered, or you can use pasta water, if done)
OPTIONAL 1 tsp. Hot Sauce, like Texas Pete Original (You can omit this, or adjust to taste.)
GARNISH: Ground Paprika & Dried or Fresh Parsley to sprinkle on top


  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Take out a large, rectangular baking pan, about 9x13” (3 Quart).
  2. Place Cashews in a large bowl, cover with fresh water, and leave soaking while cooking.
  3. Preheat a non-stick pan to Medium heat. When heated, add Onions and saute for 5 minutes, moving frequently, until starting to turn translucent. Remove from heat. At the same time, cook pasta according to directions on package. When pasta is done, drain and save the cooking water. Remove pasta from heat, and keep it in the pot with the lid on so it doesn’t dry out.
  4. While pasta is cooking, drain cashews and put them into a high-speed blender or Food Processor with all other ingredients, including cooked onions (except Paprika & Parsley for Garnish). Blend everything together until a creamy sauce forms. (You can use a few teaspoons of pasta water to get stuck onions off of pan, if necessary.)
  5. Pour blended sauce into pot with pasta. Toss. Add extra salt and pepper to taste, if desired. (Alternately, you can pour the pasta into the baking pan, then toss it with the sauce directly there. This is a bit trickier, but less sauce is lost when transferring to baking pan.) Stir in optional Hot Sauce at this time, if using.
  6. Transfer macaroni into baking pan. Lightly sprinkle on Ground Paprika for appearance.
  7. Bake in the 425° oven for 20-25 minutes, uncovered.
  8. Remove from oven and sprinkle on Fresh or Dried Parsley for garnish. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Serve with some healthy side portions of veggies like broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower. You could also add a side salad with dark leafy greens.


  • Cashews should be unsalted, and raw if possible. Watch out for cashews that have extra oil added to them. Cashews already naturally have lots of creamy oils and fat in them, so check the ingredients on your container if you don’t want unnecessary calories and fat added to your dish.

  • For pasta, we like Whole Wheat Rotini, Shells or Elbows, if you can find them. You could also use any Gluten-Free pasta for a wheat-free option.

  • OPTIONAL ADD-INS: Before baking, you can add in cooked vegan hot dog slices, cooked chopped broccoli florets or finely chopped spinach to toss with pasta and sauce.

PRO TIP Always save your Pasta Water! Or even water you boiled vegetables in, for that matter. You can use that water to thicken up sauces, or put in a few teaspoons to loosen up food stuck to a frying pan, or even use a few tablespoons to swish around in your blender to get the remaining sauce out of it. Water used for boiling fresh or frozen veggies can be used to reheat leftovers of dishes like pasta and rice, so they have more flavor and aren’t as dried out. And of course, you can use it as veggie broth for soups and sauces. You can save it in the refrigerator for a couple days before you have to toss it.

About 1 hour 20 minutes total
Serves 6-8 people