We created this gfcf vegan mac and cheese recipe so kids can still enjoy one of their favorite foods without harmful ingredients. Find the recipe below!
When it comes to helping kids feel and behave their best, the evidence that a gfcf diet can help is mounting. Particularly, for children diagnosed with conditions like autism and PANDAS, the improvements noted on the diet can be life-changing.
For those who are new to the lingo, gfcf = gluten free, casein free, in other words: no gluten or dairy.
Many parents will see a marked improvement in their child within days of removing gluten and casein from their diet, while some children need additional diet changes or more time to see results.
Whichever camp your child falls into, we think you’ll love this gfcf vegan mac and cheese recipe!
If you’re not convinced yet to give it a try, let’s look at some reasons why you should.
Is Kraft Mac and Cheese bad for you?
Let’s put it this way: it’s not good for you!
While Kraft seems to have recently re-formulated to remove ingredients like food dyes, MSG, corn syrup, and maltodetxrin (Yay! Parents who demand safer foods for their kids are being heard!), the childhood staple still contains some problematic ingredients, especially for kiddos needing a specialized diet.
The two main ingredients are gluten and dairy.
The pasta is made from enriched wheat, which contains synthetic vitamins that many children on the spectrum cannot process or tolerate.
The cheese sauce is a processed concoction of cheese derivatives and preservatives.
What is vegan mac and cheese made of?
Well this gfcf vegan mac and cheese recipe contains literally none of the above ingredients, but lots of good-for-you, allergy-friendly ones instead.
You’ll find a veggie-based sauce, gluten-free pasta (we really love lentil-based pastas, which keep this dish Better Behavior Blueprint Diet-friendly), and good fats from coconut milk and ghee.
The addition of the chickpea-based crunchy crumb topping is optional but delicious!
What can you substitute for milk in mac and cheese?
In this vegan mac and cheese recipe, we use a combination of sauteed veggies and coconut milk.
Is vegan cheese good for you?
Sure, there are lots of pre-made vegan cheese options out there, but most are not healthy. The majority contain soy and corn (other off-limits ingredients for The Better Behavior Blueprint Diet, and ones that should be avoided by kids who need some extra help).
Most also contain gum thickeners or preservatives, and many are made from nuts, which can be a healthy alternative, but, of course, won’t work for kids with nut allergies and can’t be taken to nut-free schools.
We are excited to bring you possibly the most allergy-friendly mac and cheese recipe out there and hope you love it as much as we do!
GFCF Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 1- 8 oz box of pasta (we like Tolerant Foods Lentil Pasta)
- 1- 10 oz bag frozen butternut squash, thawed, and liquid drained
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 6 tbsp ghee, divided (may substitute for solid fat of choice)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup Chickpea Crumbs (topping)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 1/2 tsp salt, divided + more to taste
- pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cook pasta according to instructions on box, adding 1 tsp salt to water.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large skillet over medium heat, then add onion and butternut squash. Sautee vegetables until starting to brown, stirring occasionally (about 10-15 minutes).
- Combine sauteed vegetables, coconut milk, 1 tsp salt, and garlic cloves in a high-powered blender and blend on high until smooth.
- Once pasta is done cooking, drain water and place in dish. Add “cheese” sauce and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste as desired.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining ghee, Chickpea Crumbs, and 1/2 tsp salt and stir with a fork. Use fingers to drop small clumps of the mixture over the macaroni*, then cover and place in the oven. Set a timer for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes, remove cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until topping begins to brown slightly.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. Chickpea topping will lose some crisp-ness if stirred into macaroni, so it’s best to simply scoop & serve without stirring.
*Note: you may skip the topping and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes.