Southwest "Mac & Cheese"

I have something super delicious for you today.... 

Southwest "Mac & Cheese"!  HECK.YES. 

Here is a story about his dish...

Scott recently traveled overseas to India for a 2 week work trip. I was sad about him leaving because I knew I would miss him like crazy. To keep myself busy, I made a lot of plans with my girlfriends, and spent a lot of time focusing on work. The two weeks he was gone happened to be particularly stressful weeks at work and I ended up putting a lot more hours in the office than I originally planned. One particular weekday night after work, I did yoga and met up with 2 of my girlfriends at Northstar Cafe for dinner. We were all talking about our busy schedules and how we wish we all had a few more hours in the day to get everything done that we need. We were having a great conversation and then all of the sudden I burst into tears. Randomly. I was obviously much more stressed than I was allowing myself to believe and I didn't have "my person" (Scott) there to talk about everything with like usual. 

I certainly surprised myself. I was caught off guard and a little embarrassed that I broke down in front of my friends. I was reminded that night that I need to make sure I allow myself time to relax and maintain a balance in my life - physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was obviously not doing a good job with that. My mini breakdown served as a gentle reminder to come back to balance and check in with my emotions and stress levels.  

I was also reminded how lucky I am to have good friends. My girlfriends were super supportive and it was comforting to know that I am not the only one who gets overwhelmed from time to time. My friend, Lauryn called me the next day to tell me she made me two big meals that I could eat for lunches and/or dinners that week to help reduce some of my stress (so I did not need to cook). How amazing is she?! She is a plant-based foodie and a wonderful cook so I was so excited to check out what she made. One of the dishes she made was this Southwest "Mac & Cheese" and WOW, it knocked my socks off. 

It is everything you would ever want in a pasta dish: creamy, flavorful, easy to make, and packed with hearty plant-based protein. I have made it twice since then for Scott and I and we both absolutely love it. So much so that I had to share it with you! Using quinoa pasta provides some extra protein and fiber,  as well as vitamin B2, iron, and magnesium which all aid in energy production and metabolism. It is also a complex carbohydrate, which means it won't spike your blood sugar as quickly as simple a carbohydrate (white pasta).  

There are 3 morals to this story.

1. Feeling overwhelmed from time to time is completely normal but it is so important to find ways to manage that stress.

2. Good friends are amazing (and a great way to help reduce stress!). 

3. You need to make this dish. 

Southwest "Mac & Cheese" by Lauryn Byrdy

Find the original recipe on Lauryn's site here


  • 1 small box quinoa elbow pasta (or whole wheat or similar pasta)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric 
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (mixed in 1 tsp water)
  • 15 oz canned kidney beans
  • 28 oz canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen sweet yellow corn
  • 1 tsp sirracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro 


  1. Cook macaroni according to package and set aside. 
  2. Combine nutritional yeast, flour, salt, garlic, mustard, and water and whisk until smooth. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Whisk until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat. 
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, and macaroni. Put back over low heat then add in cornstarch mixture and spices and continue to cook until thick and heated through. 
  4. Enjoy!