Weekend recipe: gluten-free macaroni and cheese

Sponsored by Woolworths

Someone told me recently that the thing we most crave to eat or drink is what we should most probably give up. Not really the advice we like to hear, is it?

For me, though, it made a lot of sense around my body and gluten.

Before giving up gluten three and a half years ago on the advice of a naturopath*, the very idea of walking into a bakery and unleashing myself on all manner of bread and baked goods would send me into an excitable frenzy. I’m not even talking about cakes here. I’m talking about bread. The freshly baked-no-butter-required-stuff.

I actually suspect I’ve long had an intolerance to gluten. It could extend back to an unhealthy consumption of white bread as a child but was most probably given a good kick along by a serious bout of glandular fever as a young adult. A young adult, who, if I could, I’d go back and give a big talking to about giving one’s body time to rest and recuperate from such illnesses. I doubt whether the 23-year-old me would listen but I do now know a whole lot more about my immune system and a lot of its dodgy-ness can be traced back to the early 1990s.

Even when I was diagnosed with thyroid autoimmune disease, Hashimotos, in the late 1990s, I was not made aware about making better food and lifestyle choices to support this condition. No, I was handed a script for medication, sent on my merry way and told to come back for annual blood tests.

I now know that gluten is one of the worst things for my immune system and my condition. It took less than three weeks of removing it from my diet to confirm that my naturopath was indeed right. I’m not saying that this is something that you need to adjust in your diet but there’s a fair chance in 2014 that you know someone or someone in your family who is either gluten intolerant or a coeliac.

I would love to tell you this is a choice I make to be on some foodie trend but it’s not. Let’s just say that when I throw all (gluten) caution to the wind and chow down on some crumbed calamari or a dumpling, I do so full in the knowledge that my digestive system will spend the next two-three days paying me back with some quality toilet time.

Too much information? Sorry about that. Let’s talk GF food instead.

My father-in-law is a coeliac and one of my good friends was diagnosed a coeliac 13 years ago. I’ve been mindful and aware about cooking gluten-free for many, many years. I’m here to tell you that shopping and cooking GF was not the walk in the supermarket it is now.

Reading and researching was very much a part of that early GF cooking I did.

That all changed – and became a whole lot easier for me – when Woolworths introduced its Macro range. The range has been on the shelves for a few years now and has continued to expand and now includes an extensive offering of quality gluten-free products.

Now that I’m GF (and the only GF member of our household), I aim to whip up crowd-pleasing dinners that not only get the family’s tick of approval but also allow me to get stuck in and enjoy them as well. Re-inventing and substituting regular ingredients from the Macro Gluten Free range has become second nature and the ingredients available are so good that the rest of the family is none the wiser, unless I mention it.

This gluten-free macaroni and cheese is a quick and easy crowd-pleasing version of a favourite that only takes some minor adjustments to make GF. Enjoy.

gluten free macaroni and cheese ingredients

 

gluten free macaroni and cheese

 

Gluten-free macaroni and cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a gluten-free version of a family favourite.
Author:
Recipe type: gluten-free
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 500g milk
  • 50g Woolworths Macro Gluten-Free plain flour
  • 30g butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 500g gluten-free pasta
  • 250g mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 100g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 250g tasty cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta while making Bechamel sauce.
  3. To make Bechamel sauce in Thermomix: place first 5 ingredients into TM bowl and cook for 7 minutes at 90 degrees on speed 4. Add half of combined cheese mix, mix at speed 7 for 10 seconds and then heat for 1 minute at 90 degrees on speed 3.
  4. To make Bechamel sauce on stove top: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk, whisking until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil, thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in half of combined cheese mix, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Add Bechamel sauce to pasta, stir and then pour into a medium-sized baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle remaining half of cheese mixture on top.
  7. Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

Is macaroni cheese a favourite at your house? Are you GF or do you cook for someone who is? 

* This should not be taken as medical or health advice. It applies specifically to me. Please see your health practitioner before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.

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  • Catherine

    Hi Nikki, thanks for a fab post and sharing your story – I was nodding my head throughour as I, like you, have Hashimoto’s (mine is controlled through avoiding gluten, dairy and soy). But I had a total “lightbulb moment” when you mentioned Glandular fever, which also preceded my thyroid/food intolerance issues. I wonder if there’s a link?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think there is a link Catherine – my gladular became CFS – and then Hashimoto’s … all immune system stuff.

  • Daisy

    Hi Nikki, your link to this today is very timely for me as having seen the doc I am about to be tested for coeliac disease for the 3rd time in my life. At best he thinks I am intolerant. Apparently you can develop it at any time in your life and he knows of someone who developed it at 70. Not sure that is me though because as I said to him, “I clearly do not have a malabsorption issue!”.
    Anyway, he warned me that if I do decide to go 100% gluten free, I may find that I cannot tolerate even a tiny bit of gluten in the future without reacting far worse than previously. Other people have heard this too so it may be useful to know for those of us who are intolerant as opposed to allergic.
    I do know I tried clean eating recently and it was pretty much wheat and dairy free and I felt great and looked unpregnant for a change!
    Love your blog BTW!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Daisy … I don’t have a malabsorption issue either :)!!

      And yes, your GP is kind of correct from my experience. Before swapping my digestion issues were a build up of years of intolerance I suspect. Things were not regular! Once I stopped gluten those disappeared to, shall we say, regular programming. So, the thing that happens now if I have any gluten is that things are a bit too regular. So in that respect the reaction is not worse, just different. Too much info?!

      I don’t have the same issues with dairy – and I had that tested by a naturopath as well – but I do try and eat whole foods that are as refined as little as possible.

      This recipe above obviously doesn’t reflect that – it’s more something I make so that occasionally we’re all just eating the same people. Moderation and all that!

  • Pingback: How to create a gluten-free high tea menu | Styling You

  • Mindy Roestenburg

    I have only been gluten free for 4 weeks. I think I am starting to feel the improvement but it’s a slow process for me. Unfortunately I have gone on so long without a proper understanding of what was causing my symptoms that it could take a while for my body to recover. I went through a whole lot of testing 6 months ago and was told that I wasn’t coeliac and I had a lactose intolerance. It also found that my iron levels were at half the minimum recommended amount. No wonder I was feeling so exhausted all the time. My symptoms at that time were blamed entirely on the lactose intolerance but I suspected there was more to it than that. After three months of being on iron supplements I was tested again and simply told that my iron was still low and I would need to continue the supplements. I decided to see a naturopath to seek some more answers. She has advised me to try gluten free and see if it helps me. I will be going for another iron test at the end of this month and I am hoping for positive results. I am even hopeful that once my body has a chance to repair itself that my lactose intolerance may improve as being gluten and dairy free and trying to eat out can be quite tricky. I really hope it helps me as I am tired of feeling sick and tired all the time.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh Mindy, what an awful time you’re having of it. I’m glad you’re seeking more answers and solutions though and listening to your body that’s saying something’s not right. Good luck – it’s not fun feeling sick and tired all the time. Have they tested your thyroid levels as well?

  • Di

    I am a Coeliac diagnosed about 9 years ago again from a vigilant GP, and my 13 year old son diagnosed a couple of years later. So our household is totally GF apart from the bread. My husband and older son eat normal bread as no one would eat gf bread by choice :-) I really felt so much better once I gave up gluten, and I didn’t realise how unwell I felt until I felt better, if that makes sense. Since I was diagnosed the range of food available has increased dramatically, along with awareness in cafes and restaurants which is fantastic. I enjoy going to Woolworths to see what they have to offer, and they have great snacks that my son loves. After all these years I don’t have an issue eating GF but do get annoyed with the accusation in some sections of the media that its a fad diet. Also a naturopath told me that I could be cured by eating certain foods, which is totally untrue, coeliac currently does not have a cure. Another friend who is a coeliac was told by her naturopath she could eat certain foods that contain gluten, again incorrect. So I do have issues with some of the advice floating around out there so be careful who you consult. So my advice to anyone Coeliac or gluten intolerant is arm yourself with facts, only use reputable websites for info such as the Coeliac society of Australia or Better health. Some excellent blogs out there too containing great recipes. Thanks Nikki for sharing yours…sounds delicious!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh Di, I hear you – my first understanding of GF was because of my girlfriend who was probably diagnosed about the same time as you – unfortunately it took her so long to get a diagnosis that she became so ill and so gaunt we were all seriously worried. It took a good two years for her to get her full health back and even now the slightest bit of gluten will incapacitate her within an hour. It’s so not a fad thing and thank goodness there is more awareness and products and support everywhere. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • lcc

    I used premixed GF flours for about a month before I learnt from the website Gluten Free Girlfriend and the Chef, how much better GF baked goods taste when you mix up your own GF flour mix. You do need a Vitamix or Thermomix though. If you haven’t yet – give it a try. Much cheaper than buying the flours too.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I have a Thermo! So yes I so need to try this.

  • http://www.theannoyedthyroid.com/ sammie@theannoyedthyroid.com

    I had Hashimoto’s before I lost my thyroid to Cancer. Other thyroid cancer survivors have been raving about the benefits of going gluten free and how good they feel. I don’t feel bad, but am sure I could feel better… so I think I’ll start slow and steady, gradual gluten free! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You are so in tune with your body Sammie, I’m sure you’d know if it was helping in a very short time.

  • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

    LOL – I would have politely let you know and have asked for a doggie bag for my son.

  • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

    It’s so easy to be – all gluten things taste so good!

  • Marianne

    I was labelled as a ‘medically-diagnosed coeliac’ in late 2007, and it’s made a world of difference to my life. Both of my grandmothers, and my mother, suffer from thyroid conditions, and coeliacs disease is a related condition. It made so much sense to my wonderful GP who decided to test for it, as it accounted for almost all of my on-off illnesses, general lethargy and inability to lose weight. I’m also a massive fan of the Woolworths Macro GF range – the flour is so good that I have managed to use it as a direct replacement for many of my ‘regular’ baking recipes, without any discernible taste or texture difference in the finished product. The choc chip cookies and tim-tam like biscuits in the range are also really good – perfect for a bit of an indulgence, or if you are going all out, they make a fantastic cheesecake base! Just another reason to love your blog Nikki – not only do you teach me how to dress well, but also eat (and drink!) well!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      What a wonderful GP you have there Marianne … thinking beyond the norm and helping you find a diagnosis. It took me a while to get my initial diagnosis and my GP support over the years has ranged from extremely good (unfortunately he moved to WA) to lacklustre. Thanks for the recommendations in the range! Don’t need to be told twice. Agree re the flour and substituting. I make a banana cake with it and you couldn’t tell the difference.

  • Sue Burns

    Thank you Nikki. I have decided to go gluten free and also lactose free not because of specific health problems, but find that they cause bloating and flatulence – big tummy not a good look and very uncomfortable!!! Think there are so many additives in our foods these days that they also contribute to a lot of our health problems.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I agree re the additives. Good wholesome food is the way to go.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I have not been diagnosed as Gluten intorerant but have been on that roundabout same as you re the Hashimto’s disease though having my thyroid removed i am not sure that I still have it?I have many allergies to things especially Lactose and I am thinking about getting tested properly because since my knee replacement where i had a third of my leg replaced with metal I react to a lot of things(when you look it up on the net it is quite common in the US but no studies have been done) annoying much YES! I am not sure of the full list and at the moment I have a terrible rash on my hands,what i am allergic to this time I am not sure,Thank You for this recipe Nikki I totally agree about getting rid of foods that make you sick!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Pinpointing things that make us sick or react strangely is tricky and can get complicated but I think it’s a good thing to aim for.

  • Syd

    Thanks Nikki! I have recently (this week) put myself on a GF diet, as I have long suspected something was up. My mum is coeliac, so have grown up eating GF food. Thanks for the recipe! I’m aiming for two weeks of GF goodness to see if I can notice any change.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think in two weeks you’d be able to tell if it made a difference at all Syd. Good luck.

  • Deanne

    I have been GF for about 3 years now, as is one of my sons, as a family of 8 we eat GF at home, but the others can have gluten foods if they are out. I am finding that now I have been GF for so long I can indulge in the occasional piece of bread and be OK- but I get nauseous and headaches if I over indulge.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think that’s the key in knowing how certain foods react and what the normal state of play in your body is … then you know for sure if you’ve been affected by something you ate.

  • Deanne

    I have been GF for about 3 years now, as is one of my sons, as a family of 8 we eat GF at home, but the others can have gluten foods if they are out. I am finding that now I have been GF for so long I can indulge in the occasional piece of bread and be OK- but I get nauseous and headaches if I over indulge.

  • vegemitevix

    I suspect I’m intolerant to Gluten in one form or another as whenever I eat carbs (like pizza and pasta) I have terrible IBS. I did try and cut it out of my diet altogether for a while to see if it made a diff but found it a bit hard on my budget in the UK. Now I’m back home and it’s warm (Hurrah!) I think I might give it another go. Thanks for the write up and recipe. Vix x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It is tricky budget wise – generally I’ll do protein and veggies/salad – this kind of dish I can do cheaply for the whole family but it’s not something diet wise I’d get away with too often.

  • Heather Mercer

    I found this article earlier this year and thought it really interesting. It explains, in an evolutionary sense, why many people have difficulty digesting certain foods (such as those introduced into the human diet less than 10,000 years ago…). It makes sense! http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/2/341.full

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Makes so much sense to me Heather thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Makes so much sense to me Heather thanks for sharing!

  • Holly Barlow

    Hi Nikki, my husband has been gluten free for about a year now and as the rest of the family is not, it has taken some adjusting to! But we are all pretty used to him needing to eat different bread etc to us. I even made a gf lemon delicious pudding last night and it was great. I have found websites like The Gluten Free Goddess and the Art of Gluten Free Baking to be invaluable sources of information and recipes, particularly for bread and pizza!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      That’s tricky but do-able. With a lot of recipes my family wouldn’t know the difference if it were GF or not … and agree those sites are gold!

  • Holly Barlow

    Hi Nikki, my husband has been gluten free for about a year now and as the rest of the family is not, it has taken some adjusting to! But we are all pretty used to him needing to eat different bread etc to us. I even made a gf lemon delicious pudding last night and it was great. I have found websites like The Gluten Free Goddess and the Art of Gluten Free Baking to be invaluable sources of information and recipes, particularly for bread and pizza!

  • http://bumparella.blogspot.com.au/ Michelle Barraclough

    Oh bread, crusty hot loaf, how I love you and miss you. But we had to part ways because of all the gluten babies! My story is very similar to yours Nikki. I had to go gluten free when the bloating and lethargy became too much to bear. Even in the last year I’ve noticed so many more GF products on the shelves which makes life so much easier. My favourite is the Macro Cafe muesli – yum!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’ll have to give that a try … and that crusty, hot bread smell. GAAHHH.

  • http://bumparella.blogspot.com.au/ Michelle Barraclough

    Oh bread, crusty hot loaf, how I love you and miss you. But we had to part ways because of all the gluten babies! My story is very similar to yours Nikki. I had to go gluten free when the bloating and lethargy became too much to bear. Even in the last year I’ve noticed so many more GF products on the shelves which makes life so much easier. My favourite is the Macro Cafe muesli – yum!

  • katypotaty

    I am not a GF-free girl, but a whole bunch of my friends are, and I understand how difficult it can be catering for them.
    I am, however… a mac’n’cheese girl and this looks right up my alley!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’ve had to be aware of friends and family and catering before I went GF Katy so that helped me a lot. Who doesn’t love a mac’n’cheese?!

  • Sonya

    We’re a GF household and must say Woolies’ macro mud cake is an absolute winner.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Will have to give that one a try Sonya!