Butternut Squash Mac'n'Cheese

LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH- From Beder’s Kitchen

In 2021 we’re more clued up about mental health than we have ever been before but sometimes we can forget how important it is to check up on ourselves. Have a breather right now as you read this blog post- in for 1-2-3, out 1-2-3, and let’s talk about how mental health can be affected by what we put in our bodies.

From Beder’s Kitchen is a cookbook of recipes and reflections to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention. Beder is a charity who’s aim is to normalise conversations around these issues.

Something as simple as cooking good food can be a powerful act of self love, be it a healthy dish or something more indulgent. From salads to brownies, you can’t deny that good food makes us feel better.

‘Food is personal to everyone; it can be nostalgic or magical, everything or essential’. Soul Food is a whole chapter of memories in From Beder’s Kitchen. Everyone has that one meal that takes them back to better times and there’s a chance you might find yours in this chapter. Roast Chicken, Stew, Cottage Pie just to name a few. ‘It’s the comfort that touches your soul, that moment when the food reaches your lips and triggers those emotions’ says Tom Cenci.

Food is a daily necessity so it’s the least we can do for ourselves to make sure it’s something we are truly going to enjoy so here’s a recipe for a crowd favourite to tickle the tastebuds. It takes 10-15 minutes to prepare- that’s 10-15 minutes we can spend with ourselves or with those we love that could improve your mental health!

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese– Amy Lanza

Serves 2  // Prep time 10-15 minutes, cooking time 1 hour

FOR THE SAUCE

½ a butternut squash (200-250g flesh)

4 tbsp plant-based milk

2 tbsp tahini or olive oil

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

½ tsp each of smoked paprika, ground turmeric and Dijon mustard

FOR THE PASTA

Olive oil ½ a white onion, finely diced

1 small courgette, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tamari

180g pasta of your choice

160g frozen peas

1 handful of spinach, chopped

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

FOR THE ‘CHEESY’ TOPPING

1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ tsp ground turmeric

FOR THE SAUCE

Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and line a tray with baking parchment.

Place the butternut squash cut side up on the tray and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender and starting to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Scoop out and discard the seeds, then scoop out the flesh and place it in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary and seasoning to taste. You may need to add a splash more milk to make a runnier sauce. This can be made up to 2 days in advance when kept cool in an airtight container in the fridge

FOR THE PASTA

Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for 10 minutes until caramelising and translucent. Now add the courgette and garlic and continue to fry for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through, adding the tamari for the last minute.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, adding the peas for the final 5 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, and leave to one side.

FOR THE ‘CHEESY’ TOPPING

Make the topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste.

TO SERVE

Return the cooked pasta to the saucepan then add the onion and courgette mixture, chopped spinach, tomatoes, butternut sauce and four tablespoons of the cooking water. Stir the pasta over a low heat until creamy and well coated in sauce, adding more cooking water if required. Divide the pasta between two bowls and sprinkle over the ‘cheesy’ hemp topping

From Beder's Kitchen front cover hardback book sales