Un-Vegan Mac 'n Cheese {dairy, soy, and gluten free w/paleo and vegan adaptations}

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Say what?? Isn't all mac 'n cheese "un-vegan" well yes, but most mac 'n cheese isn't dairy, soy, and gluten free. For five and a half months, I've been dairy and soy free. I started on a full Paleo diet, but have eased up quite a bit. Finding "comfort" foods that fit our diet, can be rough. Most dairy-free foods contain soy as a dairy replacer, and most soy-free foods contain dairy...which puts us in a pickle. When I found this tasty recipe and adapted it to our taste preferences I was overjoyed. Does it taste just like mac n' cheese, no. But it's super delicious in it's own right!

But why dairy and soy free? Well, we discovered my boys are milk and soy protein intolerant. They simply cannot properly digest the proteins found in either of those food groups. So as a breastfeeding mom I've been avoiding dairy and soy in my diet, to help alleviate their symptoms. Is it hard? Sometimes. Is it worth it? Without a doubt.

By nature, I'm dairy-a-holic even though I've always known I was "lactose-intolerant". My first trimester of pregnancy, dairy was a go to, it filled my constantly churning stomach. Huge bowls of cereal with organic milk twice a day, delicious cubed cheese for lunch and snacks, and massive bowls of tasty ice cream for dessert. Don't judge I was pregnant with twins after all. And don't even get me started on breastfeeding twins- no one knows hunger like a breastfeeding mom of multiples. Seriously I ate #allthefood and would still be starving at bedtime.

But by the time the twins turned 6 months and still weren't sleeping well {and by that I mean not sleeping at all, ever} I knew something was wrong. Add that to the fact that they were also constantly spitting up, had terrible gas, multiple screaming spells a day, poor weight gain, constant congestion, nursing strikes, and weird bowel movements {tmi, i know, sorry!} and you had a recipe for some seriously unhappy twins and one exhausted set of parents. After trying acid reflux meds, and quickly seeing how often we'd have to increase the dose to keep it working, I knew I needed to research other options. That's when I stumbled on MSPI (Milk/Soy Protein intolerance). My boys totally fit the profile for MSPI babies. So I talked to their pediatrician and she agreed I should try at least a dairy-free diet. I went all in and started a Whole30 (a strict 30 day Paleo diet- dairy, legume, grain, processed-food, alcohol, and sugar free) so that I didn't waste time in trying to find all of our trigger foods.

All three of us started to show signs of improved digestion after a few weeks. My acne and eczema disappeared. I even felt less tired, still mom-tired but no longer not exhausted, zombie tired. My boys stopped spitting up as much, started sleeping well and gaining weight better. Once we got their lip-ties removed (if you want to know more about that-comment below), nearly all of their symptoms were gone! I got solid two hour naps, people!

I slowly began to reintroduce foods like grains, sugar, alcohol. We've tried dairy, but so far only small amounts of butter are tolerated. I've tried soy, but I got a HUGE migraine! It seems I'm most likely MSPI too. I've just always though I was lactose-intolerant and that it was the MSG in Asian foods that bugged me. I've also suffered from acid-reflux and IBS since I was a teen. Both have practically disappeared since I've been dairy and soy free!

It's been a life-changer around here. Seriously.  Who needs cheese, when you get sleep?

So now that I've blabbered your ears off, here's the delicious recipe. I'd show you a picture, but we ate it all before I thought to take one!

un-vegan pumpkin mac ‘n “cheese”
adapted from: the vegan version at thelean clean eating machine
total time:  25 mins 
serves: 4-6, depending on appetites! 

mac ‘n cheese that's mspi- safe and gluten-free, and can be paleo with adaptations.

  • ½ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk (preferably from a bpa-free can, i like natural value organic coconut milk)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup soy-free chicken broth 
  • 1 tbsp. melt butter 2.0 or any dairy-free butter substitute (paleo: ghee)
  • 1 tbsp. gluten-free corn starch (paleo: arrowroot starch)
  • ½ tbsp. gluten-free brewer’s yeast ( paleo: you may want to omit, the paleo community is split on yeast)
  • 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. low sodium worcestershire sauce (paleo: coconut aminos or red boat fish sauce)
  • 2 cups canned 100% pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 (16oz) package of gluten-free noodles (paleo: use zucchini noodles)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey (optional, obviously this is the 'un-vegan' part)
  1. in a large pan, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with 1 tsp olive oil.
  2. add in pasta and cook according to package directions. do not rinse off finished pasta unless otherwise specified. (if using zucchini noddles, lightly saute in olive oil until soft); brown ground turkey if using.
  3. in small saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of melt butter 2.0.
  4. add in cornstarch, water, and coconut milk. whisk thoroughly and bring to a gentle boil.
  5. once mixture begins to boil, turn burner to low and add in yeast, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and worcestershire sauce. whisk thoroughly until mixture is smooth.
  6. once mixture has thickened, add in pumpkin and broth, and whisk until smooth. remove sauce from heat.
  7. once pasta is finished, drain water and return noodles to pot.
  8. add in the pumpkin sauce, optional ground turkey, and thoroughly mix.
  9. enjoy!
to reheat the left overs, add a little coconut milk and reheat over medium-low heat. and don’t forget to stir.


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