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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!)

We have entered dealing with a picky eater territory.  I knew it was only a matter of time.  So many beautiful, carefully cooked vegetables tossed to the ground or spit off the high chair.  Lovely.

So I’m getting a little more creative, and trying to come up with some fun toddler meals that Cullen will gobble down with his old vigor.  My goal is always to feed Cullen the same types of things that we are eating, sometimes with some spice or seasoning modifications.

This recipe needed no modifications though – delicious for both mama and toddler. 

Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

There is a vegetarian restaurant here in Seattle that has a vegan mac and cheese on the menu for kids.  I’ve been talking about recreating something similar at home, and this weekend seemed like the perfect occasion.  We aren’t eating much dairy these days, so this is a dairy-free version of a kids’ classic.  I doubt your little one will know the difference!

Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!)

by Emily Malone

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (3-4 servings)

    For the Pasta
    • 1 package pasta, cooked and drained (I used quinoa pasta!)
    • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

    For the "Cheese" Sauce

    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • 1/4 cup flour (I have used both garbanzo and millet flour)
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance spread, melted
    • 1 cup water

    Instructions

    Start by cooking pasta according to package directions. I chose quinoa pasta because it’s high in protein and gluten-free. We don’t eat a gluten-free diet in our house, but I do like to make sure we eat all things in moderation, and pay attention to nutritional balance. I also chose elbow pasta because it’s a fun shape and easy for tiny fingers to grab!

    IMG_1550 (427x640)

    While the pasta is cooking, set the frozen peas out to thaw, or heat gradually in a saucepan or microwave to bring to room temp.

    As far as the sauce goes, I actually made a very similar version of this sauce years ago, back when I had about three readers.  So I’m bringing it back to life now because it’s too yummy to sit and get dusty in the archives.

    In a small saucepan, combine the dry ingredients for the sauce. In a separate dish, carefully melt the butter (without burning!) and then add the water to the same dish. Add the wet ingredients to the dry saucepan and whisk constantly to avoid creating lumps. Heat the sauce on medium-low heat, and whisk often.

    Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

    You can let the sauce sit for a minute or two while it thickens, but no longer – keep whisking! After about 10-15 minutes, the sauce should have thickened into a tasty, cheese-like consistency.  I may have left my junk food days (mostly) behind me, but I will always always love nacho cheese.  Mmmmmm.

    Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

    Add pasta to individual serving bowls, and mix with peas. Top with sauce and mix together to create a creamy macaroni and "cheese" meal for the whole family!

    Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

    Since we’ve been cheese-less for a while now, I haven’t had anything like this in a long time.  It is good, classic comfort food at it’s finest.  And since we had plenty of pasta leftover, I could quickly whip up another batch of sauce for lunch leftovers this afternoon. 

    Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

    Toddler tested…

    Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

    And approved!

    Macaroni & Peas (Kid-Friendly & Dairy-Free!) by Daily Garnish

    Mama approves as well.  Enjoy!

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    64 Comments so far
    Leave a comment

    Presley @ Run Pretty     at 3:26 pm

    That looks amazing, Emily! Probably better for his belly than a bunch of cheese, huh? :)

    [Reply]

    Erica {Coffee & Quinoa}     at 3:39 pm

    Looks delicious. No kids in this household, but I may have to try it out for myself! Thanks for dusting off your “cheese” sauce recipe :)

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Haha no kids needed. I had two huge bowls myself. :)

    [Reply]

    Emily S     at 3:39 pm

    Mac and Peas is a staple around here. I just use Annie’s organic mac and cheese and add any assortment of diced frozen veggies for an easy, toddler-approved dinner! win!

    [Reply]

    Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) Reply:

    That’s my go-to quick-fix meal, too! I know I always have the “ingredients” on hand :)

    [Reply]

    Meredith     at 3:58 pm

    Can you use all purpose flour with this recipe or do you not recommend that?

    [Reply]

    Tamicka Reply:

    I’ve used AP flour before with no problems

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Yes, definitely.

    [Reply]

    heather     at 4:28 pm

    Oh I’m definitely making this- thanks! K has just started the picky phase I think- if it’s not breakfast food it’s on the floor!

    [Reply]

    Katie@Real Food Katie's Way     at 4:37 pm

    How intriguing! I love mac and cheese!

    [Reply]

    Tamicka     at 4:58 pm

    Love this recipe. I have a trick for a clump free cheese sauce. I throw all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender except for the earth balance. I blend all the ingredients together to smooth and then add to a pot with the earth balance and stir til the butter is melted and incorporated and the sauce has thickened. Fail proof smooth every time :-)

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Great tip!! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Christine     at 5:19 pm

    I just so happen to have everything to make this. Guess I know what we’ll be having for lunch tomorrow!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Hope you like it!!

    [Reply]

    Alissa     at 5:31 pm

    I really need to try the nutritional yeast, looks delicious!

    [Reply]

    Jen G.     at 5:33 pm

    I’m excited about this “cheese” recipe! Most non-dairy versions either include cashews (I’m allergic) or Daiya (which is great, but best in smaller doses). I’m definitely giving this a try!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Yeah I cant do a lot of Daiya these days. It’s creeping me out more than it used to, haha.

    [Reply]

    Amber K     at 5:33 pm

    I love macaroni and cheese, but I usually pair it with broccoli. Now I’m totally craving peas. And yes…that is incredibly weird, lol.

    [Reply]

    Megan     at 5:59 pm

    I was one of those 3 readers! You inspired me to start using nutritional yeast so long ago. Thank you!!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Awww thanks Megan! Appreciate you sticking around for so long!

    [Reply]

    Kassidy     at 6:15 pm

    That looks so good! I have been looking for an easy dairy free macaroni and cheese recipe and I think I’ve found it! Going to make it this weekend.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Hope you like it! :)

    [Reply]

    Alexis @ Hummusapien     at 6:15 pm

    I love that this is something perfect for kids AND adults! I just bought some frozen peas and TJ’s so once I restock my nooch I’ll be all over this :)

    [Reply]

    Heather (Heather's Dish)     at 6:23 pm

    Girl, we entered picky eater territory the past few weeks and it’s KILLING me! I miss when Weston would just devour any and everything I put in front of him!

    These are going on the menu ASAP. I’ll try anything :)

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    It is SO frustrating, right?? Trust me, I’ve been there. I miss the days of cut up blueberries and avocado! :)

    [Reply]

    Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant     at 6:25 pm

    Mmm this is right up my alley! I make a “cheese” sauce like this (partly based on your other recipe, if I remember!) and it was yummy but not as creamy looking as yours…I think maybe I wasn’t adding the full cup of water…I may just have to try it again tomorrow! :)

    [Reply]

    luv what you do     at 7:27 pm

    I could totally eat like a kid. This looks incredible! I am a huge fan of peas and never thought to add them to mac n cheese.

    [Reply]

    afarmerinthedell.com     at 8:19 pm

    Sounds delicious Emily! I love a good mac and cheese! No dairy, no problem! you are a rock star!

    [Reply]

    Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)     at 8:22 pm

    Looks good! I’d def. make this. As Cullen gets older becomes exposed to mac & cheese like Kraft and expect a brighter orange color, I’d throw some ground turmeric in there. It totally brightens up my mac and cheeses.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Great idea!

    [Reply]

    Kristin     at 9:48 pm

    Wow! Found this via Pinterest and it’s very similar to what I’ve been doing for my dairy-free kid! Though I often sub onion powder for the mustard and don’t add flour (but instead of water use almond milk). I started out by copying the ingredients on the back of our “mac n chreese” box mix from PCC. I just toss it it all in with the cooked pasta after I drain it (like a box mix) which I am sure is not quite so awesome as your premade sauce — I will definitely be trying that! (though in a time pinch the toss-it-all-together method does work!).

    Question: What restaurant in Seattle has the vegan mac & cheese???? I’d love to take my kids there, my oldest would LOVE to be able to actually order the mac & cheese when we are eating out. What a treat!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Welcome! Glad you found me! :) Vegan mac and cheese is at Veggie Grill – several locations around the city! Yum!

    [Reply]

    Leah M Reply:

    I was going to ask the same thing! My kids love the Pcc boxed version. I’m gf too so this will be going on the menu very soon. Thanks Emily!

    [Reply]

    Michelle@Peachy Palate     at 12:22 am

    Yum! I must try the quinoa macaroni as well!

    [Reply]

    Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama     at 4:36 am

    This brings back memories of when my first born (now 4) started becoming pickier and I started adding peas to her favorite Mac and cheese. My second born is now 13 months and has a milk protein intolerance so I may have to try this recipe. The key will be if my cheese-loving 4 yr old will like it. Let’s hope!

    I love that brand of GF pasta. It acts a lot like traditional pasta.

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth @ My Neon Running Shoes     at 4:55 am

    I need to try this recipe! I fed my 14 month old macaroni with peas and carrots last night and he loved it!

    [Reply]

    Ali @ Peaches and Football     at 5:39 am

    I’ve made a very similar mac & cheeze using nutritional yeast before as well. It’s great stuff! Hopefully Cullen’s picky eating is a very short-lived phase!

    [Reply]

    Andrea     at 6:24 am

    That cheese sauce looks YUMMY!! I love nutritional yeast. No kids for me, but I will still be giving this a try!! Thanks for sharing :)

    [Reply]

    Emily @ MainEats     at 6:32 am

    What a FUN dish! I must be turning into my dad because I am loving peas lately!

    [Reply]

    Emily     at 6:44 am

    This looks awesome, can’t wait to try it! I think I might “Grown-up-afy” it with asparagus instead of peas….thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life)     at 9:24 am

    Love this because it’s always one of our go-tos! Ok, well we use Annie’s organic mac and cheese and throw in frozen peas, but the same concept ;)
    I look forward to trying to nutritional yeast version!
    We just hit a picky pickier phase too. Awesome.

    [Reply]

    gina (fitnessista)     at 11:16 am

    thank you for planning our lunch today :) going to make the sauce now so it’s ready when liv wakes up from her nap!
    xoxo

    [Reply]

    Kat     at 12:33 pm

    Yum.This is perfect for my 1 year old who is allergic to dairy. But we’ll use a different brand of pasta…sorry, Emily, I find Ancient Harvest pastas to be inedible. Love their quinoa, though. So glad you’re posting toddler approved recipes:)

    [Reply]

    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions     at 1:57 pm

    I’m curious as to what this cheese sauce tastes like. Does it actually mimic the flavor of cheese or just the look/texture?

    [Reply]

    Jill     at 3:25 pm

    I make something similar to this but LOVE the nutritional yeast idea….Oh and I just dump my frozen peas in the pasta pot a couple minutes before it is ready to drain! I will be making this…tonight! Thank you! :)

    [Reply]

    Christine     at 5:16 pm

    Holy yum! This was awesome! Both my kiddos ate it up. I’ll be making another batch of sauce tomorrow for our leftover pasta!

    [Reply]

    Joy     at 6:36 am

    This looks delicious! I’m going to make it for lunch today.

    I’m so excited to have a use for my nutritional yeast. It sits neglected in my refrigerator because I always forget I have it.

    [Reply]

    Hilary @ PeanutButterSpoonfuls     at 5:18 am

    Thank you thank you!! My toddler can’t do dairy and my husband can’t do life without macaroni and cheese. I am going to Whole Foods today so I can make this tonight!

    [Reply]

    Brittany     at 7:16 pm

    Just had a huge bowl of this. YUM!!!!

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Yay! :)

    [Reply]

    Lessons in baking: Yeast | let's eat!     at 8:18 pm

    [...] cheesy flavor. I made grown-up mac and peas for dinner today using a “cheese” sauce recipe using nutritional yeast, butter (Earth Balance, but I went for the real stuff), water, flour, and [...]

    Jill     at 10:31 pm

    My kid LOVED it! Age 2.5 years.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Awesome! Thanks for letting me know!

    [Reply]

    Dan     at 6:56 am

    Emily, I made this last night and it was SOOOOO GOOOOD! Totally adding this to the regular cookbook.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Yay! So glad to hear it, Dan! :)

    [Reply]

    Theodora     at 8:04 am

    YUM. This big kid is totally trying this.

    [Reply]

    Michelle     at 7:48 am

    I made this over the weekend and my husband and I both really liked it! I love mac and cheese so it’s nice to have a healthy version to eat. I wilted some spinach with mine since I’m not a fan of peas and added some red pepper flakes. I will definitely be making this again.

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    So glad you guys liked it!!

    [Reply]

    Finally Friday. | Life, Love & Garlic     at 11:00 am

    [...] can’t stop thinking about this recipe for dairy-free mac n’ cheese from Daily Garnish. Early on, Christian and I bonded over our love of those cheesy noodles and [...]

    jamie hayworth-chin     at 8:35 am

    This was soo yummy! I made it twice last week:)

    [Reply]

    hanna     at 1:53 pm

    do you think this would work using olive oil instead of earth balance?

    [Reply]

    Emily Malone Reply:

    Not sure! I haven’t tried that. But it’s worth a shot?

    [Reply]

    Vegan Mac and Cheese | Gotta Eat Green     at 6:08 pm

    [...] Adapted from Daily Garnish [...]

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