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


    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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