Taking your favorite old school comfort food from bad to healthy. This vegan hamburger helper is made from all whole foods but you wouldn’t know it!
This post was sponsored by NOW Foods but the content and opinions expressed are fully my own.
Old school comfort food gone healthy. It IS actually possible while keeping the amazing flavor. Taking what my tastebuds love and finding real foods to get there is one of my favorite things to do. It takes some trial and error but I love the sweet (or salty) taste of success! So here you go, vegan hamburger helper cheeseburger macaroni at your service.
Truth be told, my mom never bought the boxed stuff. So my experience with the Betty Crocker original hamburger helper is limited. That being said, I love creating plant-based whole food meat alternatives.
My favorite trick is using dried soaked chickpeas, then chopping them into a fine crumble and cooking them with broth and spices. The texture is awesome and the flavor is amazing. Couple that with my Ultimate Cheese Sauce and a bowl full of pasta and it doesn’t get much better. But here’s the thing, I am a pasta snob. There is nothing worse than digging into noodles that plain suck.
There’s No Weird Stuff Involved Just Plain Goodness
So what kind of pasta do I like? This. Living Now Organic Quinoa Macaroni. If you’re looking for a macaroni that looks like the real deal and tastes like the real deal, this is it.
No weird color. No weird texture. No weird flavor. Just the good stuff. When I found this stuff, I knew I’d hit the gluten free, whole food, full of nutrients jackpot.
So how do I transform this pasta into America’s favorite comfort food?
Easy, I take my signature whole food based meaty crumble and combine it with my favorite cheese sauce. Add some spices and bingo. Heaven in a bowl. Get those stretchy pants ready! Does it get any better than bad for you food that’s actually good for you? Nope.
Top reasons why this vegan hamburger helper is actually good for you:
- Protein packed with meaty chickpea crumble.
- A cheese sauce made primarily of veggies.
- A pasta made from naturally gluten free whole food ingredients.
- No processed trickery.
- 16 ounces macaroni pasta , gluten free if needed (I use Living Now Organic Quinoa Macaroni)
- 2 cups Ultimate Cheese Sauce , adjust this amount to make it as cheesy you prefer it
- ½ cup dried chickpeas , soaked overnight
- ¼ cup sweet or yellow onion , finely chopped
- veggie broth or drizzle of oil to sauté
- 1 cup veggie broth , low sodium if needed
- ½ cup diced roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- Chop soaked chickpeas in a food processor until you get a nice crumble.
- Saute onion with broth or oil until it gets translucent. Add the rest of the meaty crumble ingredients and mix well.
- Cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are cooked, stirring often. Watch closely because the beans can stick, especially if not using oil. If they begin to stick, lower heat and continue to mix.
Once done, add cheese sauce and mix well. You can add less or more cheese sauce to make it as cheesy as you prefer. I added 1 1/2 cups
- Meanwhile, cook your favorite pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse, then add to the hamburger cheese mix. Stir to incorporate, plate and serve fresh!
- The cheese sauce recipe makes 4 cups. Save the leftovers for another use, such as nachos, plain macaroni and cheese, a dip for veggies, cheese fries, etc. It also freezes well.
Tips to prep ahead:
- Make cheese sauce. Soak chickpeas.
Baby/toddler food idea:
- Best kid food ever. Overcook pasta for young baby and mash well.