We like cheese but don’t like how it affects cows, the environment or our bodies so we spend a lot of time here at Turning Veganese trying vegan cheeses. Check this link for some of our older reviews.
We’ve been reviewing some mac and cheese varieties for you lovely people. I’ve had mac and cheese of one sort or another 5 times this week so I’m a little beleaguered; bear with me. They’re all gluten free and vegan and we’re about to weigh in on how delicious they are and if they work well with our favorite addition: chopped tofu pups or tempeh and peas.
Amy’s This particular variety is frozen, so it’s preparation is slightly less complicated than the others. For me the beauty of boxed mac and cheese is that I can throw it in a bag for vacation and don’t have to worry about it spoiling, obviously this variety didn’t fit that criterion but it’s still mac and cheese that’s gluten-free and vegan so we’re giving it a shot. This particular variety has a whopping 520 calories per serving and didn’t seem like a big serving compared to some of the others we tried. The mac and cheese itself was gooey, cheesy and delicious probably due to Daiya. The dish benefited slightly from adding a touch of hot sauce and black pepper but that’s just how I roll. At $4.89 it is only slightly more expensive than the boxed varieties, but it only feeds one person before or after the addition of peas and tempeh. The serving size, calories, price and perishability didn’t outweigh the flavor, unfortunately.
Leahey Gardens This is our old favorite and we were pleased that it stood up to the competition. It is remarkably low calorie, 97 calories per serving and there are three in the bag. The sauce is rich and creamy and definitely lightly cheesy. It was well seasoned and all I needed to add was a touch of flake red pepper, some chopped tofu pups and about 1/2 cup of thawed frozen peas. It cost us $3.09 per bag which is more than enough for 2 people or one hungry one.
Namaste Foods Say Cheez non-dairy seasoned gluten-free pasta requires no non-dairy milk. Only oil and salt are necessary to make this pasta. The whole bag contains 4 servings, clocking in at 270 calories each. The ingredients are unobjectionable (notably hemp in included) until I get to the bottom of the list and they’ve added silicon dioxide; that’s sand for the less nerdy among us. I suppose I eat a little dirt every day but it seems unnecessary. The preparation is a little simpler – you cook the pasta, drain it and season it. It’s beautiful and smells great, though the sauce wasn’t convincing on its own. When we tasted it we were both a little disappointed: it tasted more like buttered noodles than mac and cheese. It did well with some damage control (the liberal addition of hot sauce of various varieties) but it’s definitely not mac and cheese. It cost $4.60 per package which was reasonable for the amount of food the package makes (almost too much for 2 people), just be warned it’s not what your mouth will be expecting with the advertisement of mac and cheese.
Outdoor Herbivore Quinoa “Cheddar” Mac comes modestly packaged. The ingredients were unobjectionable and the preparation was a cinch: bring water to a boil, add the ingredients and let it sit for 10 minutes. The pasta wasn’t quite al dente after 10 minutes so I brought it back to a simmer and let it sit 3 more minutes. As we ate it I discovered a drawback of the preparation method which was an occasional piece of less than cooked pasta. I do admire the simplicity of the process conceptually, but it didn’t quite work. When it came to the dish itself, we were both disappointed: the sauce tasted like onion powder and nutritional yeast than mac and cheese. I do love those ingredients but it wasn’t mac and cheese and it wasn’t seasoned enough. With the addition of tofu pups, peas, cumin, coriander, paprika, Braag’s aminos, flake red pepper, Tapatio hot sauce and garlic salt it was awesome. It cost $9.99 so it’s as expensive as Amy’s to feed 2 people. It wasn’t really worth tracking down.
Road’s End Organics We’re trying the alfredo style brown rice pasta dinner first. The whole box, prepared, contains 2 servings at 330 calories each and the ingredients are organic and enriched with some awesome B vitamins from nutritional yeast. The instructions were straightforward and required about 10 minutes cook time. Unadulterated, the pasta was bland and the texture of the sauce was grainy. It is alfredo so I suppose the sauce wasn’t supposed to be a cheesy thrill, but Brent had some choice words about the texture of the sauce. The pasta itself was nothing special but definitely not bad. With the addition of tofu pups and peas that I sauteed in basil canola oil with flake red pepper, paprika and garlic salt… it was awesome. For versatility it’s a “GO!” Next we’re getting into their mac and chreese. This one was also 2 servings at 330 calories each. The nutritional info and preparation are very similar. We liked this one almost as much as Leahey Gardens: it’s creamy, lightly cheesy and the sauce has a nice texture. It’s AWESOME with peas and tofu pups that were sauteed in basil olive oil with flake red pepper. Feeding 2 people or one hungry one at $3.59 made it a decent deal but I don’t think it can replace Leahey Gardens’ mac and cheese in our kitchen.
Most of these brands offer wheat pasta varieties as well which will probably be cheaper than the gluten-free varieties and with the same delightful sauces which is what we’re really concerned about here, AMIRITE!?. Leahey Gardens was by far the cheapest and tastiest so if you come across it (we buy a few bags every time we order from VeganEssentials.com) TRY IT! Our second choice was Road’s End Organics Mac and Chreese, cheddar style… skip the alfredo.
This is Christie and Brent, signing off!
Very thorough review! I’ve only tried the Road’s End Cheddar MNC and I was not impressed. It was grainy and the sauce seized up before I even got it out of the pan. Maybe I did somethink wrong, but I probably won’t try that brand again. I do want to try Leahy’s, and Amy’s would be good to have on hand for a quick lunch at work. Thanks for your diligence in trying all these brands!
We didn’t detect the grainy texture in the cheddar but we also prepared the sauce stove top instead of in the microwave. It got gooey quick which I didn’t mind and it seemed to kill the grainy-ness. Leahey’s is where it’s at… easy prep, (though we always prep the sauce stove top with the peas and tofu pups already in it) low calorie, tasty, cheap. I hope you like it when you find it. Would you let me know? 🙂
Absolutely! Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes peas in my mnc. Growing up we were poor, but generic mnc, frozen peas, and hotdogs were cheap and made for a makeshift Hamburger Helper-type dinner on many occasions.
I want to upvote/like/star/retweet this comment SO BADLY! Thanks for the huge smile. 🙂
The Amy’s frozen mac and cheese tastes a lot better when you are drunk. I liked the Road’s End brand, but I find myself adding ketchup to it most times. I’ll have to try the others!
Everything is delicious when you’re drunk. 🙂
Until it comes back up 😉