My mother always made the best Mac & Cheese growing up, and I would request it regularly. But when you develop both IBS and an intolerance to dairy, your diet gets tweaked ever so slightly.
I can no longer eat pasta, one of the joys of IBS is everyone reacts to it differently and the triggers are different for everyone. I have no problems with bread, or wheat, or flour, gluten is not my enemy. But for some reason Pasta just does not agree with me. So I just considered Mac & Cheese to be a write off. I figured I had eaten my last one long ago and didn’t even savour it because I had no idea it was my last hurrah.
Over time I found some pasta alternatives, there’s brown rice pasta, corn pasta, rice vermicelli, udon noodles, and one made of bean sprouts and peas that is white raw, but cooks clear. When you’re not warned about something like that it can catch you off guard pretty quick!
Finding an alternative to run of the mill pasta was easy, as the first one I tried didn’t taste like cardboard. I wasn’t so lucky with an alternative to cheese.
I tried many different types of dairy free cheese and none of them tasted anywhere close, some claimed they “melted” but they didn’t. They ended up with a film over top and just molten particle board tasting lava underneath. I had almost given up, I thought I had tried them all, with no success, but then I noticed Daiya for the first time as I passed by it in the deli. It wasn’t with the other dairy free or vegan cheeses, but around the corner with the “normal” cheese, so I hadn’t paid it much attention. I saw those magic “Dairy Free” words, and tossed it in the cart. When I got home I also noticed the claim that it “melts and stretches”, but took it with a grain of salt. Fast forward to a year or two later, and there is always at least two bags of the shredded in my fridge. It is the best alternative I have found, it DOES melt, it DOES stretch, & most of all IT TASTES LIKE CHEESE!
To me it’s a wonder product, it was a game changer for me, it was with this product that I realized being dairy free wasn’t all that horrible, there were work arounds and they tasted great.
It’s because of Daiya cheese that I’ve been able to make a lot of the recipes that are on this blog, including the one I’m about to share.
I’ve obviously had to tweak the recipe a bit as far as ingredients go, I’ve also added some stuff too because I can never leave well enough alone, this is Mac & Cheese 2.0
The zucchini is something that, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have in my fridge. However, the always fantastic Susie Jimenez sent out a battle cry to pick up a new vegetable, you normally wouldn’t cook with, and incorporate it into your night’s meal. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have figured out just how awesome zucchini is and how much it added to this recipe. I suggest you all give her a follow on Twitter, she’s got some great ideas!
Side Note: If you want to make this dish vegan, all you have to do is omit the bread crumbs and chicken, also use the vegan margarine that Becel has.
- 8×8 pan
- 1 3/4 cups macaroni (brown rice pasta)
- 2 tsp margarine (olive oil or vegan becel)
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- bread crumbs (omit for vegan)
- Daiya Dairy Free Mozzarella or Cheddar style shreds
- 1 small zucchini
- 4-5 mushrooms
- 1/2 onion
- 1-2 small chicken breasts (omit for vegan)
- curry powder
- sea salt & herbs
I tend to cook the chicken in the afternoon so that its cooked when I’m prepared to get everything else ready. Just very simply chop it up into chunks, season it lightly as you wish, over the dish in tinfoil and cook it at 350 for 30 minutes.
Put the pasta in a pot with some salt, water and a little bit of olive oil to keep it from clumping.
Slice up the onion, zucchini, and mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with some olive oil and some Sea Salt & Herbs and once the veggies start to get some colour, toss in the chucks of chicken. Keep it at a low-medium temperature and let it cook, while keeping an eye on it, and get everything else ready.
In a small microwavable bowl, melt the margarine then, in a larger bowl, whisk it together with the flour, almond milk, salt, pepper, and curry. Now the curry is a recent addition, and we loved it! For those who aren’t familiar with it, you don’t need a lot of curry for big flavour, so be careful not to make it too spicy. We use a yellow curry and keep adding it in bit by bit to avoid a mishap.
The veggies and chicken will be done before your pasta, so feel free to transfer them from the stove to the 8×8 pan. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse it off, and drain a second time. Then add it into the pan with your other goodies. This is where the cheese comes into play. I didn’t put an amount on the list of ingredients for the simple fact that it all comes down to preference, we like it quite cheesy. Put your desired amount of cheese and mix it all together, and pour in your liquid. After everything is in the pan, give it another mix to make sure everything is coated, sprinkle on a layer of bread crumbs and some more cheese and into the oven it goes @ 350 for 30 minutes. The cheese and bread crumbs crisp up and everything else cooks perfectly to the point where it all melts in your mouth.
Once again, if you try this, please send me an e-mail with pictures and any revamps to the recipe you’ve made. My next entry will be Barbara‘s take on the Breakfast Pizza =)