This post was sponsored by Applegate, a company we use and love. I did receive compensation for my time for creating and writing up the recipe for you to read, but everything I say is my own opinion, and if you’ve followed us for any length of time you know we’re extremely picky about who we partner with and we only do posts like this with companies we absolutely trust, love, use, and recommend.
It’s no secret that Jared and I are opposites when it comes to food. When we met, Jared was a pizza loving carnivore with a (large) soft spot for soda. I however, was two years deep into a raw food eating, vegan lifestyle. We silently each figured we’d just make and eat our own food because there was just so little overlap in the foods we ate
Our 7 years together has been a journey of discovering common values when it comes to food. I often get asked about navigating eating habits in relationships so a few keys for us are: We never judge each other, and we never force our food on the other one. We talk a lot about our values, why things matter, and how we can find common ground. We work out what things we just need to keep separate and let the other one enjoy.
Fast forward a few years and we now actually eat the same thing at most meals but the one place where food is still a ‘discussion’ (!) is when it comes to traditions, and having children has amplified that. We both want our children to grow up experiencing our own loved, nostalgic foods and sharing that joy. So Clayton loves English foods like Marmite, and Christmas cake which Jared will probably never eat! But some of the experiences Jared wanted Clayton to have were hard for me. One of our marriage low moments was when Jared talked about wanting to be able to get a takeout pizza with his son… and I put my foot down. Happily we now have local places where they can share a takeout pizza together without nasty ingredients, but it was a genuinely tough moment for us as our values and nostalgia for the things we grew up with clashed.
One of the keys for us along the way has been finding companies that source food really well, and create organic, real food versions of those nostalgic foods. If you’ve followed our world for long you know I’m extremely picky about any brand name products I let in our home and that not many make it in! I never force Jared to share my values when it comes to food, but we do try to find common ground and companies like Applegate whose hotdogs go in this Jared staple below massively help that!
Their hot dogs have 4 ingredients (real ingredients: just grass-fed beef, salt, water and spices) and we get the organic ones but they are all Non GMO Project Verified and made with 100% grass-fed beef. Mac n Cheese with hot dogs was a comfort food staple for Jared growing up… and try feeding that to dad at the dinner table and not letting a toddler join in. Not gonna happen. But by using Applegate hot dogs (which ironically were my go to food when I was pregnant with Clayton!) and high quality ingredients, we can all enjoy it together – because I believe in balance but balance to us is still all between REAL foods, not ‘balancing out’ real food and not real food ingredients. Even comfort foods can still be good, real, simple food.
The recipe below is dairy free but you can sub in butter for the oil, and whole milk in place of cashew milk. The hot dogs are completely dairy free though so it works fully for people who need that! You can also add in extra veggies. We love it with steamed peas, or corn cut off the cob into the sauce, or some spinach stirred in to wilt it right before serving.
For 4 servings
3T olive or avocado oil
A clove of garlic
4T sprouted whole spelt flour (or any whole wheat flour)
3-4 cups cashew milk
Pink salt to taste
4T nutritional yeast
12-160z lb dry pasta
Freshly cracked black pepper
4-6 Applegate Hot Dogs
Cook your pasta according to its instructions. This sauce takes about as long to make as most pasta takes to cook which makes it a quick and easy meal!
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over a low heat. Press the garlic and add it to the oil and stir until it’s softened, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat right down and stir the flour into the oil to create a paste (a ‘roux’.) Using a whisk add a ¼ cup of the cashew milk and mix it into the roux really well so there are no lumps, add another ¼ cup and whisk again. Keep adding until the mixture starts to thin a little, then warm up the heat again. Keep adding the milk bit by bit, mixing it in really well. The heat will begin to thicken up the sauce as you add the milk in. Once you have a more liquid sauce after most of the milk is added, let the sauce just bubble to cook it then add in the remainder of the milk again bit my bit. Start with 3 cups of milk but add in more to reach your desired consistency. Remember it will thin slightly when you add the pasta.
Once all your milk is added chop the hot dogs (remember to slice them lengthwise first if you’re feeding to smaller children to avoid a choking hazard!) and stir them into the hot sauce. Let them heat through for a couple of minutes then stir in the nutritional yeast to give it a wonderful cheesiness, then add in salt and pepper to taste. Spoon in 12-16 oz of freshly cooked pasta (we use whole grain einkorn pasta but take your pick!) adding some of the pasta cooking water if the sauce needs thinning a little, and then stir everything through to combine. Serve it up with another twist of freshly cracked black pepper on top!
Fun fact: The sound of mac n cheese being stirred is one of my favourites on earth… anyone know what I’m talking about?!