Recently a family contacted because the father was diagnosed with severe allergies to dairy and gluten. The mother had minor allergies. Unfortunatley, they had four children with no symptoms and who were tired of eating quinoa. In desperation the mother wanted to know if I could figure out how to make a couple of the children’s favorite foods dairy free, gluten free, egg free, and mostly nut free. Challenge accepted!
The first recipe to tackle was good ole Macaroni and Cheese.
Macaroni & Cheese Renamed Macaroni & Not-Cheese
Gluten free wasn’t much of a problem, I just substituted brown rice noodles for other pasta noodles and cooked them al dente so they didn’t get too mushy by serving time.
Dairy free wasn’t that much of a problem either as I’ve used non-dairy milks and non-gluten flours to make cheese-type sauces before. Although I found cashew nut milk to work best in this recipe, rice milk works well if you have nut sensitivities.
The real problem was the macaroni and cheese coloring. Boxed macaroni & cheese is a weirdly orange-yellow color not found in nature. I’m guessing from the yellow #5 and yellow #6 that are added to the product – seriously, just read the ingredients list. Turmeric makes a great color, very similar to the boxed macaroni and cheese color, but the taste may be a bit difficult for children to swallow. I found the answer in golden beets. The condensed liquid from boiling golden beets makes a nice orangy-yellow color. Now, if you’re family doesn’t need the macaroni and cheese color, the extra time to create the liquid isn’t necessary. The flavor is unchanged by the beet liquid but the color sold it all the children that tested this recipe for me. My son has asked for it specifically.
I’m not going to even pretend this is a healthy recipe – just a healthier version of macaroni and cheese. And we all need a comfort food from time to time.
Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients
- 2 golden beets (optional)
- 2 cups brown rice or other gluten-free pasta of choice
- 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup sorghum flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup nut milk of choice
- ½ cup BPA-free canned coconut milk
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 pinches ground nutmeg
- Pinch of turmeric for more color (optional)
- Cubed meat or minimally processed, gluten-free hot dogs (optional)
Macaroni and Cheese Directions
- If using beets to add color, wash and quarter the beets. Place in a small pot with ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about an hour. Check often to ensure water doesn’t completely evaporate. You will need 1-2 tablespoons of the deep yellow colored water for this recipe. Save beets, chop and add to a salad.
- Follow package directions to cook pasta. Under cook by about 5 minutes or until still al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
- In a pan, over medium low heat, place oil, flour, and garlic powder. Stirring constantly add about 3 tablespoons of milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated. Cook down a little if needed to thicken sauce.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the beet juice and remaining seasonings.
- Add pasta and mix to coat. Stir in meat if desired.