Well, who would have known that a series of books called Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch In The Kitch actually promoted a healthy vegan diet, and weren’t just another lame-ass self improvement series? Not me, that’s for sure. The title alone turned me off to it originally. I mean, the copy on the cover says, “Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!)” It just seemed like a cash-grab.
It wasn’t until I was wandering around the local Borders, that I decided to pick up a copy of the cookbook and see just what they were telling women was “healthy.” I was surprised to find recipes for Potato and Pumpkin Curry with Brown Basmati Rice, Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms over Grilled Vegetable Couscous, and even a “Beef” Stew.
Always willing to admit that I assume too much at times, I picked up a copy and give it a go. My quick and dirty review? It’s good, as long as you skip the introduction. It turns out that the girls (because I refuse to call them the Skinny Bitches), border on the obnoxious type of vegan who isn’t afraid to hammer home the fact that you’re eating “…dead, rotting, decomposing flesh of carcasses.” I’m no fan of the over-zealous level of anything, whether it be religion or eating habits. I think you can convince more people to try something healthy if you don’t do it while insulting their current habits. Occasionally the recipes fit into the “well, DUH” variety, especially when they focus on how to dress up a veggie burger. When they instead offer up reinventions of meat-centric dishes or new inventions entirely, they really shine.
I adapted their Macaroni and Four Cheeses recipe featured here a bit though. They call for the use of Coconut Oil, something that people say have many health benefits, but I’m on a budget this week, and didn’t have the 7 bucks it would cost for something I may use once. Maybe the crumbs weren’t as crunchy as they should have been, but I’ll make do.
The result is a simple and hearty dish, that looks similar to Mac n Cheese in appearance only. The taste is a little earthier thanks to the winter squash. There was only the slightest hint of a cheese taste; but the cayenne pepper gave it a nice little bite.
The nice thing is, for people with soy allergies, you could easily use regular dairy products and end up with something that may be higher in fat and cholesterol, but probably tastes just as good.
Not bad ladies. Not bad at all.
Macaroni and Four Cheeses
- 1 Tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 2 (10 oz) packages frozen pureed winter squash
- 2 cups soy or rice milk
- 4 oz vegan shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 oz vegan shredded jack cheese
- 4 oz vegan cream cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp powdered mustard
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.
In a 4-6-quart pot, combine 3 quarts of water with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the salt. Bring water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, in a 3-4-quart pot over medium heat, combine the squash and milk, stirring and breaking up the squash with a spoon until the squash is defrosted. Increase the heat to a medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheddar, Jack, cream cheese, mustard, cayenne, and the remaining 1/2 Tbsp of salt.
When the pasta is done, drain it, the return the pasta to the pot. Stir the cheese sauce into the macaroni. Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared baking pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and coconut oil (if using). Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the macaroni and “cheese.” Place the casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes until the top is nicely browned.