If you’re responsible for feeding one or more finicky children (or child-like adults), listen up, because these recipes are made for you.
My chili mac casserole and chocolate milk are omnivore requested, tested and approved, and possibly my most kid-friendly recipes to date. Plus, they both have the added benefit of being stupid easy to throw together, whilst harboring zero animal products or gluten. And, oh yeah, they taste fantastic. Amazing, I know. (Full disclosure time: I grabbed the gluten-free pasta off the store shelf on accident. But, you know what, it turned out yummy. So, there you go).
But before I launch into the recipes, allow me to drop some knowledge about one of the star ingredients in both.
When people find out someone in their vicinity no longer eats animal products, one of the most common concerns they feel the
right need to voice is, “but where oh where do you get your calcium?!” (Because it makes complete sense to pipe up with nutrition advice when a fellow human is noshing salads and tofu, but when they watch you scarf down McGarbage on your way to a triple by-pass at 30, your diet is totally none of their business…) “Never fear,” I tell these folks, “well-rounded plant-based diets contain plenty of calcium. And one of my favorite sources is almond milk.”
It’s creamy, can be used exactly like you’d use cow’s milk in any recipe, and is devoid of lactose (an enemy of many tummies), growth hormones, cholesterol, and sneakily hidden sweeteners. Plus, unlike cow’s milk, almond milk is a rich source of magnesium and vitamin E, as well as selenium, and manganese. And calcium-fortified, unsweetened almond milk has 50 percent more calcium per serving than regular cow’s milk — yet only 30 calories per serving, compared to 90 calories in skim cow’s milk and 150 calories in fat cow’s milk.
Now, some of you might be wondering why I didn’t just drop a blob of Hershey’s chocolate syrup into my milk and call it a day. Because I think high fructose corn syrup is the devil’s sweetener, that’s why.
So let’s all calm down, eat some calcium-rich casserole, and wash it down with a nice, frothy glass of calci-yummy, better-than-moosual chocolate milk.
Chili Mac Casserole
- 2 cans vegan chili (I used Amy’s, medium-level spice. But if you’re less lazy than me, you can use about three cups of your homemade chili)
- 3 cups spinach, chopped (you could use kale here, too)
- 8 oz. pasta (I used gluten-free penne, but really, whatever floats your boat will work)
- 1 batch of Aunt B’s Cheese Sauce (recipe here)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumb topping (optional)
‘Role it Up
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Follow the package instructions to cook your pasta (gluten-free pasta usually has a shorter cook time).
- While your pasta is cooking, mix up all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender or food processor.
- Dump your drained pasta back in the pot and pour in the cheese sauce, chili, and spinach, and stir until combined.
- Pour the whole mixture into a lightly greased (I used olive oil spray) casserole dish.
- If you like, top with breadcrumbs for an added crunch factor.
- Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
- If you can drum up enough patience, allow the casserole to cool a bit before serving. Or let the kids burn their tongues out of their skulls. That’ll teach ‘em!
Non-Dairy Chocolate Milk
- 2 Tbsps organic, pure maple syrup
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 4 drops vanilla
- 2 heaping tsps pure cocoa powder
Simply blend all the ingredients together and chill in the fridge. If you don’t have a blender of food processor, you can use it whisk, but it might take a while.