April 1, 2011
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I had been hearing buzzing around vegan blogs and message boards for awhile now about a new macaroni and cheese product on the market that tasted like Kraft Dinner. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it anywhere in the Bay Area and ordering it online seemed a little bit silly with the cost of shipping. I finally found the Leahey Gardens Macaroni & Cheese at Food Fight in Portland last time I was in town, but due to some dinner plans going terribly awry one evening I was forced to break into my Secret Mac & Cheese Stash, and then wasn’t able to snap a decent photo. Thankfully, a couple of awesome friends grabbed me a new bag when they were in Portland a few weeks later. Geez, what is it with vegans and Portland?
The first package I tried was with regular pasta, and the other package was the gluten free version. I thought both pasta choices were great. The instructions call for either 1 cup of non-dairy milk or water to mix in with the cheezy powder. The first time I used unsweetened almond milk and was not a fan of the aftertaste it gave the sauce. This round I used water and it came out much better.
I am inclined to agree that the texture of the sauce is very much like Kraft, and it’s as easy and convenient to make as Kraft, but the similarities pretty much end there. For one thing, while I did really enjoy the flavor of the cheese sauce it was WAY too salty. Like, I’m taking off my rings now, because I’m afraid I won’t be able to get them off in a few hours.
The sauce to noodle ratio was also quite off. If you want me to throw some statistics around, I would say it could use about 50% more noodles. Luckily, you can buy the cheese mix by itself, and go crazy experimenting until you discover the perfect amount of pasta.
And if you’re looking for that neon orange tint to your mac n’ cheese you’re not going to find it here! As you can see from the photo, it’s a pretty pale yellow.
I actually still think, despite it’s issues, that Leahey Gardens is the best pre-packaged vegan macaroni and cheese product available right now (though I’m not really sure where else you can get it besides Food Fight). If they fixed the problem with the saltiness I would be really into buying the cheese mix packets. Hell, I would bulk order them.