Sunflower Mac

Mac ‘n cheese was a big favourite of mine as a kid, when I lived in Canada: the Kraft kind, from a box. Of course my parents never bought that stuff, I’d get it as a treat once in a while when I visited my best friend next door. And a few months after I moved back to South Africa, I received a big parcel in the post with a dozen boxes of Kraft mac ‘n cheese – best surprise ever!

Of course that American classic is neither vegan nor healthy. And the popular vegan recipes that you’ll find online typically use cashews to get that rich, creamy consistency. But cashews are pricey and I’m on a budget: so, sunflower seeds are a great second-best! Try out this version and let me know what you think.

If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @PlantifulCoach + #PlantifulCoach! I’d love to see your foodie creations 🙂

Sunflower Mac

A vegan take on a childhood favourite, using sunflower seeds in place of pricey cashews.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot diced
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp miso
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • elbow macaroni pasta for 4


  • Soak the sunflower seeds in hot water for about 20 minutes.
  • Prepare the vegetable stock, and prepare the pasta according to package directions.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the carrot and onion.
  • Cook, stirring, until soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Drain the soaked sunflower seeds, and add them to a blender along with the carrot mix, vegetable stock, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, lemon juice, paprika, chilli flakes, miso, mustard and turmeric.
  • Blend until very smooth.
  • Once the pasta is ready, drain the cooking water, and pour the sauce into the pasta.
  • Mix it in, and serve.

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