A chronicle of my search for allergen-free food that my toddler son enjoys.
// Main allergens avoided: soy, dairy, nuts - plus other random nefarious things like strawberries.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Mac and Cheese. Please!
So my husband and I were standing in the pasta aisle, actually buying regular old noodles for ourselves ... Not the rice kind, just cheap semolina wheat stuff. We don't do it very often, but there you go.
Now, our son hasn't really been down this aisle before, for obvious reasons... but he does eat rice noodles a lot and loves them: with pasta sauce, with olive oil and basil, or chopped up hot dogs, what have you. And if you've ever read this blog before, you know he loves cheese too. Not the dairy kind, but rather its simulacrum, Daiya (which is primarily tapioca starch... darned yummy tapioca starch!).
So back to the pasta aisle. We are deciding on farfalle vs. campanelle... and suddenly our son walks up to us with a box of good old mac and cheese. Somehow he knows what this is. I don't know how, or maybe he's psychic, but he says PASTA and CHEESE! and continues to grab several boxes, taking them back to the cool car-shaped toy the supermarket has kindly strapped to the front of our shopping cart. He loads them on the seat, then hops in. He's ready to go.
This completely slays me. On so many levels.
First, it's pretty funny to see a two-year-old with such determination and whimsy grabbing boxes of macaroni and cheese with the intent to abscond with them in a shopping cart "car".
Second, it's heartbreaking because I want so badly to share with him the simple pleasure of boxed macaroni and cheese -- the stuff childhood is made of.
Why can't it be this easy? Why can't I just say OK, looks like you want to try this new thing - let's get it!
Why can't I just buy him a damn box of macaroni and cheese?
Well, I can't. But I can try to get a little bit of of that joy on his plate. I need to respond to his requests for new foods by getting creative. And maybe this is a good thing -- he is telling me what he wants and I don't have to make it up out of thin air any more!
So what follows is my attempt at Macaroni and Cheese:
1/2 cup rice milk (trust me, don't use the vanilla kind)
1 cup cheddar-style Daiya cheese
1 cup cooked rice noodles, macaroni style of your choice.
(we had curly elbows already made)
Put cheese and rice milk into a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time. Each time, bring it out and stir a little, checking for when the cheese is thoroughly melted into the milk. Stir until the cheese is melted and get a creamy consistency overall.
Add the pre-cooked noodles. e voila!
Add shredded cheese and start stirring.
Not quite ready. Keep stirring!
I can't say they're perfect. But it's pretty close... you might adjust the amount of cheese, add some spices (there was already basil on our leftover pasta, for example) salt or pepper to your taste.
Was it worth trying? Heck yeah. The last thing I want to do is squelch my son's desire to explore ~ climbing, running, new foods, life. Maybe it was just me trying to make myself feel like it's possible (just maybe) for him to be as spontaneous with food as he is everything else.