Sunday, July 7, 2013

Easy Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese - Plus Gluten-free & Non-dairy Version!




As a child (and even as an adult), one of my favorite meals was macaroni and cheese...especially the brand that claimed that it was the "cheesiest", and it really was no lie!

However, being the label reader that I am, I cannot get myself to prepare boxed macaroni and cheese to my children - even those that claim that they are "natural", a term that is used quite loosely in that "health food" world.

One of the many problems that I have with that blue box of cheesy-warm-goodness is the additives, one of which is the artificial dyes.

Why should one avoid artificial dyes?

Besides providing a bright and happy orange color that dose not add any nutritional value whatsoever, here are a list of reasons why one should avoid foods with artificial dyes such as yellow 5 and 6 that are found in most boxed macaroni and cheese :

- They are man-made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum (a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar).

- They require a warning label in other countries outside the US.

- They have been banned in countries like Norway and Austria (and are being phased out in the UK).

- Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens (a.k.a. an agent directly involved in causing cancer).

- They cause an increase in hyperactivity in children.

- They have a negative impact on children’s ability to learn.

- They have been linked to long-term health problems such as asthma, skin rashes, and migraines.


Eek! Needless to say, I have stopped buying boxed macaroni and cheese for my children. Occassionally, I will buy the organic and "natural" versions...but $3 per box is just a little too much.

There is a cheaper and healthier way...homemade stove top macaroni and cheese! The recipe is super easy and the whole process takes about 8 minutes from start to finish!

For gluten-free or dairy-free options, please read the notes section below. The asterisks will notify you of what ingredients are in need of swapping.


...and now for the recipe!


Easy Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients

1 pound pasta, any shape*
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I prefer organic, you can also choose unsweetened rice, cashew, or almond)**
2 tablespoons flour*
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used white cheddar)*&**
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Salt & pepper to taste

Notes :

* For gluten-free version, make sure that you use gluten-free pasta, gluten-free flour (you can also substitute equal parts arrowroot powder for the flour in the recipe), and be sure to shred your own cheese! Many pre-shredded cheeses are coated with flour as an anti-caking agent.

** For dairy-free version, make sure that you use either almond or rice milk and vegan cheese. It doesn't taste nearly as good...but works!


Why I looooove this cheese, besides the awesome taste!


Instructions

Boil the pasta per directions, usually 7 minutes for al dente or 8 for soft, depending on the pasta. Set a timer and move onto the sauce!

Warm 1 cup of the milk over medium heat. With the other 1/2 cup of milk, whisk in the 2 tbs of flour until no clumps are visible. When steam rises from the warming milk, stir in the 1/2 cup milk and flour mixture. whisk gently for 3-4 minutes until the milk thickens a little.

Turn the heat down to low and mix in handfuls of cheese into the milk one at a time, whisk, and add more until you have used the rest of the cheese. Stir in the salt, mustard, and Tabasco sauce. Whisk until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is nice and creamy. Feel free to add more Tabasco sauce or salt and pepper to your liking. Remove the sauce from the heat.

At this point your pasta should be close to done. Drain and mix in with the cheese sauce.

Add ins - Most kids LOVE macaroni and cheese, so take advantage of the opportunity to add some veggies such as peas or broccoli, and some protein, like chicken!

Enjoy!


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13 comments:

  1. Yum! I love using mac and cheese as a base for all sorts of add ins. Making your own is just so much better!

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  2. This looks delicious! And so simple to make, too!

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  3. Yum! We love mac and cheese in our house. And easy is always a winner.

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  4. We do love mac an cheese and I love to make it on the stove homemade! Organic Valley cheese is also one of my favorites! The sharp cheddar has such an awesome flavor.

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  5. We love mac n cheese too :) I can't wait to try this out! Thank you for sharing it :)

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  6. Sounds yummy! If you're interested, I'd love for you to link it up to my Tutorial Tuesday Blog Hop tomorrow.

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  7. I had no idea that they put dye in boxed maccaroni and cheese! Thanks for the eye-opening post.

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  8. Yum! I love mac and cheese, but stopped buying it when we started eating real food.

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  9. Yum! that is one of our fave foods, and this is a much quicker version!

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  10. Yum, comfort food! I always feel so bad feeding my kids Kraft Dinner, now I have a better option.

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  11. Ashleigh SwerdfegerOctober 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    MMm love home-made mac and cheese especially with "grown up" ingredients like onions, corns, peas, and spices. Cheese is the best~

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  12. I've been looking for a good gluten free Mac n' Cheese recipe; so thank you! I have a family member who is gluten intolerant, so they'll really appreciate this! :)

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  13. This recipe looks very tasty. Thanks for sharing!

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