There's one sneaky ingredient that changes everything for this classic recipe: pumpkin. Make this vegan recipe and find out why the squash is the perfect addition to noodles and "cheese."

By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN
October 19, 2017
Photo: Michael Maes/Getty Images

When it comes to classic fall comfort food, creamy, gooey macaroni and cheese is near the top of most people's lists. The traditional recipe may not be the healthiest or lightest fare, but this vegan version (yes, mac and cheese CAN be vegan and still taste good) has the same incredible taste and texture without the high fat and extra calories that weigh the dish down. Plus, some key additions pack bonus nutrition into your belly-warming dinner.

The star ingredient that you'd never know was in there? Pumpkin. Aside from pumping up the orange color-from natural ingredients instead of sketchy powder substances-this fall superfood gives the dish a creamy texture and boasts a powerful dose of vitamin A and vitamin C (both support a healthy immune system), along with potassium to support healthy muscle and nerve function. Broccoli, spinach, or other veggies are optional, but will certainly make the flavor and nutrition even more interesting. This quick and easy version also provides tons of protein and fiber, which will satisfy you with only a small bowl. (But no one's judging if you go back for seconds-this dish is good.)

Need to make it gluten-free? Just substitute gluten-free tamari, nutritional yeast, or coconut aminos for the miso paste and use chickpea or other gluten-free pasta.

Sick of pumpkin? (Hey, it happens.) This recipe also works well with butternut squash purée.

High-Protein Vegan Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Serves 4


  • 8 oz whole-wheat pasta or other pasta of choice
  • 1 block tofu (~14 oz)
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, paprika, and turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste


  1. Add tofu, pumpkin purée, spices, and miso paste into a blender. Blend until smooth to create the "cheese" sauce. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package. Retain a small amount of the starchy pasta water. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  3. Toss "cheese" sauce with pasta to coat well. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 290 cals; 17g protein; 49g carbs; 7g fiber; 5g total fat


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