Dairy Full Mac and Cheese


dairy full mac and cheese photo by vsimon

The stuff in the blue box is the cheesiest? I don’t think so. A powdered cheese packet just cannot compare.

We like this adult version of gluten free, dairy full, mac and cheese. It really is cheesy, sharp cheddar cheesy. And we live in Wisconsin, so our cheddar is orange.

This mac and cheese also has a kick of spicy cayenne. But to keep peace in the family, you can make it kid friendly with mild cheddar and no spice.

Can I make it low lactose? Lactose and I are not friends.

Sure, easily. Use lactose free milk. Cheddar is naturally very, very low in lactose.

What other kinds of milk can I use?

Regular, low fat, fat free, they all work. But since this is dairy full mac and cheese, use cow’s milk.

Sweet rice flour

This sauce is thickened with sweet rice flour. Also known as glutinous rice flour. Do not be alarmed, it does not have any gluten.

It is called glutinous rice because it is sticky when it is cooked. And the flour thickens sauces beautifully. I use it for all clients, even those who are not gluten free.

It just works better than wheat flour. Especially if you are freezing (and thawing) a saucy dish. It does not curdle, weep, or separate after it is thawed.

Make extra

So make a bunch, put into individual containers with lids and freeze for future comfort. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm in the microwave for just a few minutes.

Add veggies

We often roast cherry tomatoes and serve them on top of the mac and cheese. That is REALLY a good idea. Roasted mushrooms are great too.

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4 metric measures
8 oz gluten free pasta 225 gm
2 cups milk 480 ml
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour 10 gm
1 teaspoon salt 5 gm
¼ tsp cayenne, optional generous pinch
2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese 225 gm

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In another saucepan, make a white sauce. Stir together milk, sweet rice flour, salt, and cayenne if using. Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Remove pan from the burner and add the cheese. Stir until melted.

Add pasta to cheese sauce, mix well. Serve it up!

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ready to dig in? photo by vsimon

K is for Kefir

Thick and creamy, sour and tangy, sometimes slightly effervescent. Kefir is a fermented functional milk product. That means it offers health benefits beyond the basic nutrition of calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.

What is the difference between kefir and yogurt?

Kefir is fluid enough to be drinkable, and the brand available in the U.S. contains 10 bacterial and yeast cultures. These include several kinds of tiny organisms with scary sounding names. Yogurt is thick and spoon able, and usually has only 1 or 2 kinds of bacteria.

Both kefir and yogurt come in many forms, full fat, low fat, no fat, organic or not, with added fiber or not, sweetened, flavored, or plain. Some kinds of yogurt come with granola or cookie toppings that are not gluten free.

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plain-kefir-with-garden-raspberries-added photo by lsimon

What about those bacteria?

Both kefir and yogurt often claim to contain probiotics. The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. Those live microorganisms are bacteria and yeast, the host is us.

So we are eating bacteria and yeast. My sister, a nurse, will not eat foods with probiotics because of those bacteria, no matter how friendly they may be.

How do probiotics help us?

They help to normalize bowel function, whether the problem is constipation or diarrhea. Some doctors and dietitians recommend taking kefir with antibiotics to prevent diarrhea.

Many other health claims are made too. But often the research is on mice. Do you think mice like dairy as much as cats do? Or the research tests pills of specific strains of microorganisms, not the food product we would eat.

Are you lactose intolerant?

You may be able to enjoy kefir or yogurt. Those friendly bacteria breakdown the lactose and digest it for you.

Are you cultured?

You do not really know how active your cultures are when you eat yogurt or drink kefir. A research article from the Journal of Nutrition in 2000 states:

The National Yogurt Association allows yogurt manufacturers use of its "Live Active Culture Seal" on products that contain 10×8 viable cultures per gram at time of manufacture. However, no distinction is made between yogurt starter cultures used primarily for acid production (S. thermophilus and L. delbreuckii subsp. burglarious) and probiotics species (L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. reuteri, Bifidobacterium species, among others). Therefore, this seal is of little value in assuring consumers of effective probiotic levels.

I do not want to imply your yogurt or kefir does not have active cultures when you eat it. But the fact is, we simply do not know how lively those bacteria are after they have been stored for a while.

Raspberry-plant photo by mwri

Still, I enjoy a glass of kefir many mornings. I buy plain organic kefir and add flavoring to it. By itself, it is too sour for me. But I can control the amount of sweetener I add. So I add berries and honey, or blend it with peanut butter and brown sugar. I sometimes top fruit crisp with sweetened kefir instead of ice cream too.

Kefir is a very important part of my regimen to prevent constipation. I have found it works much better than yogurt and I have happily been able to stop my prescription medication, GlycoLax. 🙂

Kefir also provides significant calcium and vitamin D. Reasons enough for me to keep enjoying it and recommend it to you.

Have you tried kefir? How did you like it?