Annie's macaroni and cheeseWhen most people say, “I made macaroni and cheese”, it usually means they cracked open a blue box that may or may not say “Kraft” on it. Or, if they’re trying a little harder, a box of Annie’s. Maybe, just maybe, they’re making it from scratch. It turns out that the recipe isn’t as hard as Kraft would like us to believe after all. Either way, it’s a mom’s easy way out for making a kid-friendly meal.

But once you enter the world of cooking for multiple food allergies, it’s a whole different scene. And while Amy’s Kitchen can help some of us, it doesn’t work for everyone. Not to mention that it’s a bit pricey for something so basic. On the whole, I’ve found that trying to create allergen-free versions of favorite processed foods is very, very challenging, and I don’t bother. But there are days that I just want the kid to be able to eat to be able to eat the same thing as the rest of the kids at preschool. And then there are days when *I* really just want to eat comfort foods.

Here’s what “I made mac and cheese” means at our house.  It’s dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, egg-free, corn-free, soy-free, nut-free and yeast-free.

Rice pasta (we prefer Tinkyada Brand), boiled in salted water, mixed with a batch of vegan, soy-free, Better-than-Cheese Sauce. I mix steamed broccoli or peas into my portion, since the kid won’t touch “peels,” as he calls all plant matter at the moment.

Yup, it’s just that simple. And if it just so happens that you have the sauce on hand already (it freezes nicely in ice cube trays), it’s just as fast as the stuff in the box. But it’s allergen-free, and it has got to be better for you than the unpronounceable chemicals found in so many processed foods.

Is it exactly mac and cheese? Well, if I’m being perfectly honest today, no, it’s not. Better-than-Cheese sauce doesn’t exactly mimic all of the flavor and texture of real dairy cheese. What did you expect from something made out of carrots? But it looks like mac and cheese, tastes yummy, and, most importantly, the kid will eat it without a fight.

There’s something indescribably wonderful about being able to enjoy a classic comfort food like macaroni and cheese, and being able to share that moment with your food-allergic kids.