When I was a kid, baked mac and cheese—you know, the kind with the crunchy topping—was a staple at my grandmom’s house. I finally got around to making it for my own family and I’m so excited to share this recipe for Gluten-Free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese today.
One of the things that I’ve learned watching my daughter grow into the 3.5 year old that she is today is that the longer you wait to introduce certain foods, the harder it can be to have them be accepted. And while sure, a small child can decide they don’t want to eat something on any day for any reason, it seems like the foods that my daughter likes most are the ones that we eat most. Which of course makes sense—toddlers love routine, the expected, and familiarity. Which means that since I haven’t been in the habit of serving casseroles other than occasionally, L doesn’t love them. I think part of it is that she’s just not sure what’s inside since casseroles tend to have a lot of ingredients that end up (deliciously) cooked together, but I have a feeling that if they were a regular on our dinner table from the time she was 1, it might be an easier sell today.
Which brings us to this recipe. I made this after the holidays while we were still visiting my parents and you guys, it was so good. It doesn’t require sticks of butter or pounds of cheese but it somehow manages to still be super creamy and flavorful. And there’s a nice amount of cauliflower tucked inside, which is a convenient way to serve up veggies. I admit that L mostly tried to find the pasta in the mix—and nibbled on the sausage and salad that we served alongside, which was fine with me since that’s what sides are for!—but I hope to make it regularly enough going forward that she eventually digs into the whole serving.
I know that it can be frustrating to make a new recipe that you’re really excited about and have the little one not share your enthusiasm. You are not alone. I try to think about how wary I would be if I was being served something that looked entirely new, filled with ingredients I couldn’t totally see. We adults have a better ability to understand what something might taste like and some things are still hard for us to go for—so it’s understandable that it would be even harder for little ones who have a lot less culinary history to draw on. It can help to compare the new food to one they like, to talk about what it tastes like, and to give them just a teensy serving. But it’s also okay if they don’t want it the first time around. Surround the new food with simple sides and let that be their meal.
(And this early and regular introduction concept is definitely going to be something that I keep in mind more with kiddo #2!)
Get the full recipe for Cauliflower Mac and Cheese right here on recipe.com.