Organic, gluten-free, Mac & Cheese that is also high in protein! Whaaaaat?
When I evaluate the diets of kids at my clinic there are a few foods that turn up regularly, and macaroni and cheese is definitely one of them! A favorite of kids and adults alike, mac and cheese is a common comfort food and one that even picky eaters tend to find appealing. While eating mac and cheese on occasion isn’t necessarily a problem for some kids, especially if it is homemade, eating processed boxed options on a regular basis is problematic and I’ll explain why that is. But don’t get discouraged, I will also tell you about an easy-to-get mac and cheese option that is organic, gluten-free and high in protein.
Are all packaged Mac & Cheese options full of chemicals and sugar?
First and foremost, the majority of packaged mac and cheese products contain a significant amount of sugar and chemicals that are not supportive of mental or physical health. Most packaged options also contain noodles made with refined wheat flour, which is a problem for children who feel and function better on a gluten-free diet. Processed grains also cause significant blood sugar spikes, which can be a problem for many children, especially those with anxiety, mood, and behavior issues. The body breaks these simple carbs down into sugar quickly, causing blood sugar to rapidly rise and then crash about 90 minutes later. These rapid blood sugar fluctuations can cause irritability, poor focus, impulsivity, fatigue, and a host of other issues.
What is a parent to do?
Enter Chickapea Mac & Cheese. I first came across the Chickapea brand at an expo event earlier this Spring where I had the opportunity to try a sample (or two) myself. I almost breezed passed it thinking it was just another gluten-free pasta among the sea of many. However, when I glanced at the box and saw the high protein content I stopped to take a closer look, and I’m very glad I did.
High in protein and fiber too!
The pasta itself is made with organic chickpea and lentil flour, which means it’s free of gluten and high in protein (19g per serving). I teach parents and kids to incorporate more protein into meals and snacks throughout the day to help stabilize blood sugar, support brain function, and provide more sustained energy. Protein at the start of the day is especially important for kids. There are kids at my clinic who even prefer Mac & Cheese for breakfast so this is a perfect option.
Did I mention it’s organic AKA NOT full of chemicals!
Chickapea pasta also has a very high fiber content (8g per serving), which is also beneficial for stabilizing blood sugar, keeping kids full longer, and promotes healthy bowel function (also a good source of iron and B vitamins). This company is committed to dishing out safe healthy products, and all organic. They do not add artificial colors, flavors, or other chemicals that I try to have families avoid. For kids who require a dairy-free diet, Chickapea has a variety of noodles available that can be eaten plain, or mixed with their favorite dairy-free cheese or sauce. They make 3 varieties of Mac & Cheese – elbow noodles with classic cheddar, spirals with classic cheddar, and shell noodles with white cheddar.
Chickapea Mac & Cheese has become a staple in our house.
I very much enjoy that my kids can make this independently, for a snack or a quick meal. My 16-year-old recently made a batch and allowed me to take some pictures of the process. The instructions are the same as virtually any other boxed mac and cheese product out there. One thing to keep in mind is that this pasta requires much less cooking time than wheat-based noodles. Just 5-6 minutes in boiling water to get al-dente noodles. Unlike some gluten free noodles, these hold up well and don’t become mushy. We make the mac and cheese with rice milk as we don’t use cow’s milk in our house. Butter, ghee, Earth Balance spread, and other non-dairy butter replacement options all work well depending on your needs and preferences.
If you have a mac and cheese lover in your family I recommend you give Chickapea a try. They can be found at many local retailers as well as online. Click here for where to buy. These GF DF pasta’s get the Dr. Nicole seal of approval as well as 2 thumbs up from the Beurkens Kids!
While we’re on the topic of healthy eats, here’s a quick link to another favorite in our house – easy to make – ENERGY BITES!
Have you tried the Chickpea Mac & Cheese or any of their other products? What did you think? Did you make something unique?