Comforting Baked Mac n’ Cheese with Bacon

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on April 17, 2011

It’s been cold all weekend long.

The thermostat is cranked up to 73F, my toes have been wrapped up in my favorite woolly socks, and I’ve had more naps than I want to admit.

Enter the casserole that will keep us warm until Spring decides to kick old man Winter to the sidelines.

I made this mac n’ cheese last Monday for dinner and was praised for two days following. It doesn’t take much to please Kevin. If the recipe has bacon, chocolate, cinnamon, or honey, it’s a sure win.

As soon as it began to snow again this weekend, Kevin turned to me and said “Mac n’ cheeeeese, pleeeease??”

He’s right, it’s a perfect meal for chilly temperatures.

So, to the kitchen I went on Saturday afternoon to whip up another batch of his new favorite.

psst it’s my new favorite too… but I’d rather he think I’m making it special, just for him.

My favorite part of this casserole is the topping. The smoked paprika really made it for me.

Oh, and the bacon, the bacon made it too.

And the rice pasta didn’t hurt the cause either.

This is my favorite rice pasta in the entire world…

Thankfully it was on sale a couple of months ago, so I stocked up in a big way. Only 8 more bags to go.

[print_this]

Comforting Baked Mac n’ Cheese with Bacon

Gluten free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Yeast free

This dairy free mac n’ cheese is a real crowd pleaser. Keep the kids happy with the deep orange color of the “cheese” sauce and surprise the adults of the group with the smoky, crunchy topping. Or, prepare on the weekend and pop in the freezer for a weeks’ worth of healthy frozen lunches!

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, peeled
  • 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp cashews
  • 2 tbsp yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Add-ins

  • 3 cups uncooked pasta – I used rice pasta shells
  • 8 strips pork bacon
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 green onions, diced or 2 tbsp freeze dried chives

Topping

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and oil a 4 cup casserole dish with coconut oil. Prepare pasta as per package instructions. Be sure to leave it al dente.
  2. To make the sauce: Peel the sweet potato, stab with fork a couple of times, and place in the microwave on ‘potato’ setting. Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in a blender. Add cooked sweet potato, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a frying pan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat and setting aside.
  3. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large frying pan, cooking for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan, dab with paper towel and cut into bits. Set aside
  4. To make topping: combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Whip eggs with hand held mixer until frothy. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, prepared sauce, bacon bits, frothed eggs, and green onions/chives. Stir to combine.
  6. Drop mixture into prepared casserole dish and top with topping.
  7. Cook in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4- 6 servings.

[/print_this]

 

Okay, on to a completely different topic…

I was supposed to go swimming yesterday morning but without an instructor to tell me what to do [we're on Christmas Spring break right now], I absolutely hate being in the pool.

So, I opted to drop in on a step class :| It’s some serious stuff!

I was jumping and bopping alone in my own little world as the serious steppers were following their routine. I stopped a couple of times throughout the class to laugh with myself [not at myself, I was still having a great time!]

I’m going back again next Saturday to have another go at it. Until then, I’ll be watching these…

Safety first, kids

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V0TqgcXSVk&feature=relmfu

uh, zomg so confusing. I was a dancer… I can do this [insert positive self talk here].

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdA-PbdzBAM

Have you ever been to a step class? If so, how long did it take you to get the hang of it?

What’s the last new thing you’ve tried?

Have you entered my latest giveaway?

What’s the weather like where you are today?

It’s okay to make me jealous!

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

S☀S

I just found your blog and I LOVE it. This looks delicious – can’t believe there’s no cheese! I’m always on the lookout for comfort foods as canada is freezing cold so I’m going to be sure to give your recipe a try.
Can’t wait to read more!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Where abouts are you in Canada? I’m in Airdrie (Alberta) so I totally feel you on the cold factor.

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Cait @ Beyond Bananas

I’ve taken a step class before.. it was a great work out! It definitely took a while for me to get into the rhythm and understand what everyone else was doing! I loved it though!

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Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

oh my gosh, I am boommarking this! My family is a huge mac n cheese fan, and they just had some the other night–full of cheese :( But! Now I can make this! YAY!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey

That mac n cheese looks amazing! I’ve been to a step class before – it didn’t take me that long to get the hang of it. I guess I’m more coordinated than I thought!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Way to go, Chelsey. I can’t believe you nailed it on your first try! The teacher was yelling out numbers and formations and everyone just knew. It was amazing.

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Stefanie

The sauce to the mac & cheese sounds good by itself. I’ll have to try it. The only step exercises I have done were on Wii fit. Step classes sound like fun though.

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

You’re right, next time I think I’ll skip the baking part, add the pasta, and call it a day. It’s delicious on it’s own too! I didn’t know Wii fit had step exercises. I really need to get one of those!

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Jenny

I’m pretty sure I’ve bookmarked your past 8 posts. You are a gift to blogworld, girl :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Aw thanks, Jenny. That means a lot :)

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Jenny (Fit Girl Foodie)

Omg that weather is insane! Luckily it’s nice and warm here. Loving that mac and cheese, always a classic comfort meal :D

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The Harried Cook

I am so glad I found your blog! I love it… And this recipe sounds amazing! We love mac & cheese & this sounds just delicious…Never tried a Step class… The latest ‘new’ old thing I’ve tried is riding a carousel (which you know all about from my post!) :) The weather here in Chennai is blistering hot and we are cooling off with some amazing watermelons! I cannot enter your giveaway because I live in India! I so wish I could though! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

You have me hoping to find a carousel! It’s been ages. Watermelons are the best for cooling off, aren’t they? I love using them in smoothies in the Summer. I cannot wait for Summer to show up here! Sorry about the giveaway, but thanks for coming to say hi!

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Dayle Van Ess

mmm….this looks so good! I love to see these types of recipes as they are totally gluten-free. I haven’t had Mac n’ Cheese since being diagnosed with Celiac’s so needless to say, I will put these ingredients on my shopping list ASAP! Looks great=]

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Sarah (Running To Slow Things Down)

The mac & cheese looks fabulous! I may just have to make it for Easter this year. Mmm…

I hope the snow disappears soon for you! Winter just doesn’t want to give up without a fight. ;)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Great idea, I bet it could even be made into a breakfast dish! Thanks Sarah :)

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Megan

Dairy-free mac&cheese…brilliant! Nicely done.

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Our Eyes Eat First

love step class – thinking of going to a dance class! love the mac and cheese!

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Stacy @ LoveDiscoveryGratitude

LOL, I’ve tried a step class, and failed miserably. I couldn’t bring myself to go back! lol!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

No? haha I’m totally going to go again. I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile.

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Alaina Rose @ Sweetness of Life

Oh wow, that looks so good! I’ve definitely been known to indulge in bacon from time to time. I was a vegetarian for several years and then one day I started craving bacon. I started thinking about it and couldn’t stop! So instead of judging myself and telling myself I couldn’t eat bacon, I just went for it! And it was awesome. But now I only eat it once in a blue moon. Woody is all about it though! So I should totally make this. :-)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I was the same way, Alaina! I was vegan for years, but I started craving meat like crazy. I think it’s healthy for us to just do what makes us feel right, no need for labels or categories for our eating. If Woody likes bacon, he’ll love this Kevin nearly died! You could also heat up the sauce in the bacon pan… I did that the first time and it was nuts!

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Robyn

I’ve tried doing step classes before. They were ok. Definitely a great workout though! They have a lot of variety in their step combinations which is cool for constantly challenging your muscles, but I felt like my brain had to work way too hard! I was a dancer before too so at least I had that going for me!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I totally agree, there was definitely a lot of brain work.

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PolaM

Love your blog and I wanted to pass something along… An award is waiting for you here http://cookingitalianinthemidwest.blogspot.com/2011/04/awards-galore.html. Hope you enjoy it!

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Jillian

Get out of my head! I’ve been craving mac n’ cheese for a year now. I will definitely try this one as soon as I can find some quinoa pasta again. I can’t do rice and since I moved to Charlotte I can’t find quinoa pasta without corn in it. Argh! I used to buy it at Whole Foods in Texas but Charlotte doesn’t have one yet. Hope is on the way though. I drove past a construction site with a Whole Foods sign yesterday. I got so excited I’m surprised I didn’t have a wreck! LOL

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I’m the same way about black bean pasta. I love that stuff, but can’t find it anywhere! I hope they get to building that Whole Foods fast so you can chow down on some mac n’ cheese!

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Jillian

Wow! I just bought some black bean pasta and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. Any recommendations?

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I love using it with a good stir fry (great replacement for rice!) or just steamed veggies, coconut oil, and black bean pasta. Oh my word, I need to find that stuff. I hope you enjoy it!

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Parsley Sage

Non-dairy mac ‘n cheese, huh? While it sounds wrong, it just looks so right. I bet that smoked paprika makes it taste glorious. Mmmm…

Sorry you didn’t make it for your swim this morning. I did. I woke up this morning and the ocean was like glass so I had no excuse not to get it. I managed about 400 M and I only swallowed about a gallon of salt water ;) I just pretended like I was doing a salt flush with a cleanse. Well done on the step class. I think I may have died.

Reply

Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Smoked paprika is my new best friend, I’ll leave it at that. zomg.
I wish I could have swam in the ocean this morning, geeez! You kill me!

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Jess@HealthyExposures

I’ve never done a step class – but just watching the vid I know it would be something that I would stick out like a sore thumb in. I get so discombobulated with fast directions and following stuff like that! Even simple workouts that follow a rhythm it takes me a bit. Maybe I’m just slow :P
Anyways. This mac and cheese looks awesome!! I love the idea of using a sweet potato for some more creamy factor :] I hope spring comes soon!

Reply

Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

haha if we lived in the same city I would totally invite you to a step class. That would be a riot… because I looked the same yesterday!
The sweet potato made everything so orange, it was perrrfect!

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amber

ive been to a few step classes and i hate them. my feet always end up so sore and im horrible with the movies. i’ll stick to spin and zumba :)

the weather in saskatoon is bizarre. in the last two days it has been sunny, cloudy, raining, hailing, and a snow storm warning. at the moment it is sunny…. but for how long?!

Reply

Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Fair enough, at least you know what you like and what you don’t. Spin and Zumba are a blast! Sounds a lot like you guys are experiencing the same weather as us! ugh!!

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amber

oh, during my first step class i also fell into another person in my area. oops, way embarrassing :(

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

haha awesome! That is pretty embarrassing… but I’m sure a lot of people do it!

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Dee Dee's Delights

These sound great, I am hosting a linky party called Sunday Buffet, Your welcome to add these to the Buffet line! http://deedeesdelights.blogspot.com/p/sunday-buffet.html

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Michelle

I def want to try this recipe!
Lately I’ve been into Zumba. I’m actually an instructor now, too, and usually have a class of about ten ladies. It’s so much fun and with all those people in the room, that energy makes it that much better!
Have a happy Sunday!

Reply

Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

It’s so cool that you’re a Zumba instructor. I love Zumba!

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Ann Claire

Mmm bacon definitely makes everything better :) This looks great!

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Crystal @YogiCrystal

This sounds so good and definitely a must-have since we are still in the midst of winter! Thank you for sharing…. I just love that rice pasta too! :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Winter is right… what the heck?! I keep telling myself it’ll be better in May… Have a great week, Crystal :)

Reply

Tulika

Step classes are really hard the first few times, but keep at it! The more you practice, the better you’ll get and all of a sudden you’ll wonder why you thought it was so hard in the first place. :)

Delicious looking mac ‘n cheese, by the way!!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks for the encouragement, Tulika. I’ll keep at it!

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Happy When Not Hungry

This looks delicious! I’m sorry you still have cold weather, but this is the perfect dish to get you warm. Looks amazing!

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Lindsey@Lindselicious

Ugh I hated step- I wasn’t coordinated enough and would keep on tripping on the step. (I was a dancer too- and the shame of the clumsiness was extreme!) This Mac n Cheese is so crazy- I love the combination of the surprise ingredients. Especially the butternut squash and miso- I’m intriguied and want to make soon!!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

That’s exactly what it was, shame! I trained for years, and I can’t do this? Fail.
Let me know how you like the mac n’ cheese if you give it a shot. Any way to get more veg in is good in my books!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

I am not a mac n cheeze, or bacon, or pasta girl…just not my set of flavors but I think you could twist my arm with this one! Looks incredible!

Your comment to me re Kevin having all kinds of camera gear…lucky duck! And about leaving the lens caps off/having to send back..ugh! But thank you for that piece of trivia b/c you saved me from ever doing that. Not that I likely would but now i know for sure it’s a no-no.

Hope you have a great week :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

haha well, at least you’re honest!
It’s the lens cap and the lens itself. I am always leaving the cap off… I’ve been known to scratch lenses too :S But the issue with the humidity is when you take the lens off and just leave the camera “open” so to speak. I don’t know what I was thinking… I’m so absent minded!

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Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

Oh no – I’m so sorry you guys are still getting snow! What a bummer! But at least you make some kick butt meals to get you and Kevin through!! :)

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Felice - All That's Left Are The Crumbs

Wow, it sure does look cold there. Thank goodness for mac and cheese with bacon to warm you up. Hope it gets warmer soon!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Felice :)

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Firefly

I’ll have to make your mac n’ cheese it looks amazing :) It’s cold here too, we have lots of rain and it drives me crazy LOL
The last time I was at the step class was about 7 years ago before I got pregnant LOL it wasn’t all that fun for me the first time around :P The second time I did it, it was a lot better. Maybe I should try it again, who knows maybe third time’s the charm LOL

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I’m hoping the 3rd time’s a charm. I don’t know how long I can go to that class and look like an idiot before they just kick me out!

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michelle

This look yum. I cannot keep the beat with any step/dance classes and feel like an idiot when I try. Now I see zumba everywhere and stay far far away

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Zumba is awesome! You really don’t need a beat. It’s generally filled with a bunch of women that just want to have fun. I think that’s one of my favorites!

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Claire

This casserole looks SO AMAZING. I love mac n cheese!!

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Cassie

I’m trying this one on the kids soon!! Can’t wait! : ))

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Tracy @ Commit to Fit

I can’t believe I missed this one! This Mac N Cheese looks fantastic :)

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Lindsay

Yum, love the look of this! I’ve definitely been craving lots of comfort foods lately with all the snow we’ve received in Calgary. Blech!

Do you think that smoked tofu would work instead of the bacon?

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Smoked tofu would be delicious in this!

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Jessica

Who knew step class could be so complicated? :)

That Mac&Cheese looks AWESOME!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I sure the heck didn’t!

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Jill

MMmm…made the mac n cheese tonight (sans bacon for me!) and it was well worth the time spent to make it. YUM!

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chris

This looks awesome! What is the purpose of the sweet potato? I am wondering if I can use a yellow summer squash instead. Thanks!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

For color, squash would work perfectly too!

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Loren

hey! Love it! But I was wondering does this freeze well? I’m wondering because I would like to make it for someone and then ship it!

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Loren

well just the sauce that is, does it freeze well?

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Loren – I haven’t tried to freeze the sauce on its own, but did freeze the leftovers for this and it was just fine.

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