Grain-Free Mac and Cheese for a Bariatric Diet
Do you ever crave something simply because it reminds you of Mom... of childhood... of home? This is not like your craving for a good cup of coffee in the morning. Nor is it like craving a good Cabernet to go with that chunk of salty Spanish Manchego.
It's also not that "I've been so good lately that I deserve some dark decadent chocolate" craving. No. It's none of those. What it is, is a remembrance of a feeling... a longing for a time and place from the past... a nostalgic craving for something that reminds you of home. Something that makes you feel like a kid again, eating in your mom's kitchen.
I've been having one of those cravings lately.
As a kid, mac and cheese was one of my favorite lunches. It was something I shared with my girlfriend as a late night snack during sleepovers. And it was one of those comfort foods that I took for granted. In case you haven't noticed, nowadays I eat fairly grain-free. Grains were one of the culprits keeping me fat for decades. Today they have no place in my bariatric life - I eat mainly fresh fish, fowl, fruits, and veggies...
and occasional cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts/nut butters/nut flours/nut milk, and olive oil... virtually no processed foods.
So, I've been having this craving. Probably, the craving has something to do with wanting to be home again, Mom coming down the backstairs on a Saturday afternoon with bowls of mac and cheese for my brother and me to eat by the pool during summer vacation. Since I can't relive the past, I set my grown-up self to task to develop a grain-free mac and cheese, and maybe just recapture a bit of that comforting feeling.
The result is a Grain-free Mac and Cheese that's pretty good. It's not the same as Mom made. It probably wouldn't be even if I used real macaroni. But the glorious rich and gooey cheese did comfort my craving... and I felt a warmness fill my stomach and my heart.
Please give it a try and let me know what you think
Mind you, this isn't healthy just because it is grain-free. For goodness sake, it is covered in cheese and high in fat! But it isn't horrible for you in moderation.
It's also a good way to get more vegetables into your diet.
Grain-free Mac and Cheese
Sea salt, as needed
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 TBS olive oil
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
12 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz Gruyere cheese, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 TBS heavy cream
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
6-8 oz diced tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season the water with salt.
2. Coat a baking dish with olive oil.
3. Cook the small cauliflower florets in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish and set aside.
4. Soften the yogurt in a saucepan over low heat, and whisk in the cream cheese and mustard until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the Cheddar (reserving 1/2c), all of the Gruyere, beaten egg, garlic, cream, pepper, cayenne, and paprika and whisk just until the cheese melts. Remove from heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir to combine.
5. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar and diced tomatoes and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 20 minutes. Serve.
Cook's note: I may try experimenting with this recipe using spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons in lieu of the cauliflower at some point in the future.
Another option to try is The Honey Swell's alternative to mac 'n cheese; check out the recipe for Comfy Cauliflower.
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I am sharing my wonderful recipe make-overs with you that have helped me to be successful in maintaining my weight loss from bariatric surgery in 2003. These include delicious protein shakes - some of which taste even better than the delicious fat and sugger ladden Frappucinos at Starbucks, protein bars that are far more healthy and affordable than those you buy online/in-store, and awesome recipe-makeovers of foods you love but are no longer part of a bariatric life food plan.