Tasty Dairy-Free Pasta Toppers

Some of you are excited at the thought of a replacement for these things and some of you are probably wondering “What’s the problem with dairy?”  In our case, due to some intestinal problems, our MD thought that my husband should avoid all inflammatory foods, i.e. foods that cause inflammation, which include dairy.  For many people, myself included, dairy is difficult to digest leading to bloating, gas and pain.  And on top of that, dairy is very fattening.  In addition, some people are trying to reduce their animal fat intake because there are experts who say this is better for your heart and cancer prevention.  (Of course there are MANY opinions on health and wellness in regards to diet…. just some food for thought as you make choices for you and your family).

I suppose one could purchase vegan cheese products from the grocery store, but frankly they are expensive and I don’t like their ingredient lists much better than the ingredient lists of other processed cheeses and foods.  So Little Sis and I blend, borrow, steal and amend the ideas of others with our own to try and reclaim the wonderful taste and texture of added parmesan, mozzarella or ricotta.

I am very pleased with these 2 additions to the DF arsenal.  My son has never liked parmesan on his pasta (clearly there was a switch in the hospital, but other than this we like him and didn’t complain to the authorities), but my husband whose GI troubles led us to do away with the dastardly dairy, and I both always LOVED a little pasta with our parmesan.

So I offer you my version of DF parmesan (which is high in iron because of the presence of sesame seeds) and a ricotta-ish substance that can be used plain or with tomato sauce.  This one is an adaptation of Little Sis’ creamy orzo ‘nofredo’ sauce.  This deliciousness has the advantage of using pureed cauliflower, no really – it’s fabulous – and the more veggies, the better!

Moo-less, Flavor-full Parmesan sprinkles
-adapted from Angela Liddon’s vegan parmesan cheez

1/2 c sunflower seeds
3/4 c sesame seeds (I used raw rather than toasted)
1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in blender
Blend until powdery – don’t go too long or the sunflower seeds will start to turn into sunflower butter!
Place on top of pasta….. or other things as well!  I think the sunflower seeds give it a heartier flavor and the ratio of the other ingredients in mine is a little different from Ms. Liddon’s – but check that out as well!  You might prefer it.






Teat-free Ricotta.   Okay, that’s gross – Zippy Dairy Free Ricotta
– adapted from Little Sis’ Nofredo Orzo with Chickpeas and Kale

1 c walnuts
2 T olive oil
2 T nutritional yeast flakes (opt.)
1 – 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (I accidentally put in 2 rather than 1 and I really liked the zip – try one and see what you think)
1/4 c water
1 t salt
1.5  cup roasted cauliflower pieces
fresh ground pepper

Place all in the food processor and process.
This comes out thicker than the nofredo sauce and is more like a ricotta or cottage cheese.    If you want to make it thinner – add some water or non-dairy, unsweetened milk.

We mixed of this some plain with pasta but then I added a dollop to my pasta with a tomato sauce. …. LAAAAAA Sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!  It really knocked my socks off.  I think this begs to be put into some kind of layered lasagna type thing.  It was very tasty.




‘Hot & Hearty’ – Better than Porridge

Did you hear that joke about oatmeal?

It was a lot of mush…

Actually I like oatmeal, but I get tired of oatmeal, and variety is the spice… and I’ve got this big honking bag of quinoa in the pantry that I bought from CostCo, so… I had to try some different hot cereals.  Another plus is that both oatmeal and quinoa are on our list of healthy pantry items that can come through for you in a pinch.  (See post “Peeping in our pantries’)

I did, but I just need to state that I think we need a better name than ‘hot cereal’ or ‘porridge’..  Hot & Hearty is not that great either, is it?  Seriously, neither ‘hot cereal,’ ‘Hot & Hearty’, nor ‘porridge’  (please, Sir, could I have some more?) gets folks leaping out of a warm bed into that cold kitchen.  So in Little Sis’ honor, I will call my creation ‘Warm Bowl of Yum’.  This is not an instant recipe, but make a big pot, because with a little extra milk (whether dairy, soy or nut) to moisten, it works for a couple of days!

This, as is so often the case with people who cook from scratch for children, was developed over time with changes here and there to finally find the Warm Bowl of Yum that both my boys (one a smadge older chronologically, but not at heart), and I, enjoy.  I especially enjoy it because I’ve snuck some protein and lots of trace minerals in by using nuts that my son won’t eat when they are whole.  (Grind ahead of time if your children object to nuts!)

Warm Bowl of Yum

5 cups liquid : I use 2.5 water and 2.5 almond milk
1 cup oats
1 cup quinoa
1 cup ground walnuts (you can certainly try other nuts, but walnuts really seem to thicken this and they are not very noticeable either ;-)1 tsp salt (optional)
1-2 tsp allspice / or 1 Tbsp cinnamon (optional)

toppings like raisins, honey, more nuts, maple syrup, etc.

Bring your liquid and salt, if using, to a boil.  Be careful!  Almond milk is the wallflower of boilers.  It waits and waits and then suddenly gets inspired, leaps into the fray, jumps out of the pan and into the saucer under your burner there to create a rather ghastly smell and even ghastlier mess.  Do not step away from the stove until you’re at a safe simmer!

‘pot full of milk’ waiting to be transformed into ‘pot full of yum’

Once it boils, toss in your quinoa, turn down to a simmer and cover.  Let simmer about 10 minutes and then boil again Baby!

Toss in the oatmeal, turn down to low and cover. Let simmer about 5 minutes.

While it is simmering, grind your walnuts.  I am blessed with a Vita-Mix which is a noisy but effective way to grind nuts.

Noise, Noise, Noise! Why do you have to be makin’ all that noise?

Stir in the ground nuts and cook covered for a few minutes or until the oats are tender and the quinoa is tender.

A few large walnut lumps – but he doesn’t seem to notice!

Schplop into bowls with your favorite schplopper and enjoy!

I am feeling very grateful for raisins right now.

If I have leftover rice in the frig that is not ear-marked for something to be cooked, I have been known to toss that in as well at the final stages.

I’m sure some of you have your own ‘warm bowls of yum.’     Do tell – spice up my life 😉



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