I'm a big believer in the fact that sometimes our bodies crave what we need.
I believe it's good that we crave hearty warm soups in the summer and salads with fresh corn in the summer.
I believe that's sometimes it's ok to crave a warm cookie after a bad day, or a cup of tea to relax at night, or a glass of wine to socialize with friends.
Food, at it's core, is good.
This is not to condone emotional eating--also known as being overly stressed and consuming all the chocolate/cereal/bread in the panty. In fact, I think that kind of eating is actually divorced from our emotions. [I don't want to feel this anger/sadness/loneliness/stress right now so I am going to eat my feelings in the hopes of feeling better...]
I'm more interested in our ability to understand our feelings and needs and then nourish ourselves in response to that.
This past week I struggled with this. I was feeling vulnerable from interviews that I didn't feel particularly good about, lonely because Adam and was gone, and stressed with the amount of work I had to do.
There was some angry-eating of cereal for dinner one night.
But then I decided to get my act together and make some healthy comfort food, which for me, will almost always be mac and cheese.
This non-traditional mac and cheese is an almost 1:1 ratio of macaroni to vegetables, as the sauce is made of pureed cauliflower and butternut squash. It's not exactly fat free since it contains a little bit of butter and a lot of cheese, but I think that's ok.
These days I'm stressed by anything that consumes too much of my time all at once, so I elected to make the sauce in the crockpot. The cauliflower, butternut squash and vegetable broth can harmonize in the crock pot while you're at work. When you get home, simply put the pasta water on to boil, puree the vegetables in a blender/food processor, add the milk, butter, and cheese, and dinner is done.
I won't promise that you don't taste the butternut squash and cauliflower, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I like the slight sweetness from the butternut squash. The creamy texture is just like the real thing, and I happen to believe a little Vermont white cheddar makes anything good.
Though Adam eyed it suspiciously when I told him it was "healthy," he ate a large plate and didn't complain once about the butternut squash, which he "doesn't like."
Take the time to nourish yourselves this week, friends.
Healthy Veggie Crock Pot Mac & Cheese
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
pinch of paprika
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup (or more) shredded cheese (I used a combination of white cheddar and gruyere)
2 1/2 cups dry macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat)
In a crock pot, combine onion, cauliflower, butternut squash, vegetable broth, paprika and nutmeg.* Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
When you're almost ready to eat, boil water for the pasta. Take batches of the cauliflower/butternut squash mixture and blend in food processor/blender until smooth. (Add pasta to water and cook according to package directions)
Return smooth cauliflower/butternut squash sauce to the crock pot on low heat. Add butter, milk, and cheese. Stir occasionally until cheese and butter are melted. Taste it. Depending on the salt in the vegetable broth you used, you may need to add a generous pinch of salt here.
Pour sauce over cooked noodles and enjoy!
*The Crock Pot is totally optional here. You could also roast the veggies and then blend them along with the vegetable broth, or you could just cook the veggies and broth in a saucepan over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
Inspired by Pinch of Yum.