with a lactose-free twist!
gluten-free, cow dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, sugar-free
Why is it that some foods are more comforting than others? How do these “comfort foods” come into being? Is it because they are familiar? What we ate as children? Did we subconsciously give a self-imagined healing power to these foods as we did to our security blankets and teddy bears? I’m nearly positive I must have. Because if there is one thing you must know about my offbeat diet, it is that I am no fan of cow’s milk, the dairy industry, or the myth our government has created to keep us dependent on it.
I know I am no professional. I am no doctor. But I am a girl who might as well have had an IV pumping whole milk into her veins throughout her entire childhood. That is how much I loved milk. It was my beverage of choice at every meal. Even when other kids squealed over getting away with drinking soda at birthday parties, I crinkled my nose at the thought of Coca-Cola and anxiously asked… well… “got milk?” instead.
I never got any stomach aches from drinking my milk, eating my Ben and Jerry’s, or sneaking cubes of Asiago after visits to the beloved Italian import store we practically haunted. I never had any symptoms that might lead a doctor to believe I could be lactose intolerant. I was your average American kid. Your average American teenager. Your average American twenty-something.
Until I wasn’t.
Before I knew it, I’d given up cow’s milk in all forms. And I began making the strangest observations. I felt… just… better. Not that I felt bad before. It was just as if a better quality of living had unveiled itself. And when a few tablespoons of butter or a sprinkling of cheese had somehow cheated its way past my watchful eye when dining out, my body suddenly began letting me know. Oh, did it let me know. It sounded alarms manifesting in shooting pains, an unfortunate digestive system, and general ickiness.
That’s when I knew: all this time, my body had simply built up an immunity to cow’s milk… just as Wesley’s body did to poison (10 points to you if you know this reference). And if my body had done it, my guess is that is what most bodies do. It is no coincidence that if you feed a human baby cow’s milk, there’s a good chance it will die.
Now. Please know that I am not standing on my soap box here with an agenda. I simply think that my story is worth hearing because I strongly believe that saying “no” to lactose is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given my body. My story is an example of me listening to my body, and making a decision based on what I felt was best for me. If we all just did this simple kindness for ourselves, I believe we’d be making our lives a whole lot easier.
If you do happen to be curious about dairy, I encourage you to explore the medical journals posted at http://www.notmilk.com/, and pick up “Skinny Bitch” and “Milk A-Z” from the library. You very well may be astounded.
And “astounded” is good.
Sometimes, “comforted” is better though. So. For now, let’s move away from the astounding and back to the comforting, the familiar, even if it’s only for a moment. Or for a bite. Sometimes I just need macaroni and cheese, and part of listening to our bodies means saying “yes” just as often as saying “no.” Upon making the happy discovery that my body doesn’t seem to reject sheep’s or goat’s milk as it does cow’s, I responded (quite appropriately) with creating this recipe.
Macaroni and Cheese
1 lb pasta (I like elbows or shells)
1 cup cashew milk (My favorite is Elana’s recipe)*
*Though the cashew milk makes a huge difference regarding the creamy factor,
if you must go with store-bought, I’d recommend unsweetened hemp, though
almond and rice would do the trick as well.
1 1/2 cups grated Istara Sheep cheese*
1 1/2 cups grated Manchego Sheep cheese*
*Both cheeses should be available at Whole Foods. That’s where I bought them!
You could also experiment and substitute other softer, easy-to-grate cheeses as you like.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Soft goat cheese to taste (opt.)
1) Boil pasta.
2) Meanwhile, simmer milk over low heat. Gradually pour grated cheese in the milk. Stir constantly to prevent burning!
3) After about 10-15 minutes of pouring and stirring, the sauce will have thickened. Stir in salt, pepper, and goat cheese to taste (optional – goat cheese has a very strong flavor, so I’d suggest eliminating if you’re craving a more mild mac n’ cheese).
4) Drain pasta and don’t rinse. Mix sauce in pasta immediately.
5) Eat one of the greatest comfort foods of all time.