I wasn’t planning on writing a post today -at all. However, my heart is aching, my mind is blurry, and my spirit is quite deflated. All this thanks to a 2mile wide tornado that ripped through a town in Oklahoma yesterday.
All I want is comfort food a peaceful heart and mind today. All I can do is pray for those affected by the tornado in Oklahoma and eat a big bowl of my better-than-boxed homemade mac and cheese. Another bowl.
Yesterday, while a massive tornado was happening thousands of miles away from us, I was at the pool with my kids. I left the office mid afternoon and picked them all up for a little after school treat. Meanwhile, thousands of people were hiding in their basements, closets and tubs; praying to God to have mercy and save their lives. They were probably praying for their children too, many of which were still at school scared for their lives.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Before going to sleep, I prayed feverishly for those who were affected, their families and people who are out there helping find survivors in the rubble. My mind couldn’t grasp the reality of how destructive nature can be -especially tornadoes.
Living outside of New Orleans since 2000 has shown me some of what nature can do. We’ve lived through a few major hurricanes…but this is different. With hurricanes, we have time to prepare, evacuate with our families or make preparations to stay. This is different. People were working, living their daily lives, children were at school… and then it happens.
After hurricane Katrina, many of my friends in California and New York asked why I lived in New Orleans. The country wondered why people lived in a place that flooded two stories high, why people came back to re-build, and how they seemed to be un-affected and let life go on. Life does go on, but that doesn’t mean that things like this leave us unmarked.
Becoming a parent has changed me in ways I never thought possible. Before becoming a parent, I didn’t know first hand what loving someone else outside of yourself was like –as in the unconditional deep love I have for my children. The kind of love people seek in their lifetime and would freely die for.
When I woke up at 1am and 2:30am, I stumbled into Baby G’s room to rock him back to sleep. In the rocking chair, all I could do is cry. I cried for those who wouldn’t hold their children again, those who are searching among the rubble in hopes of finding their loved ones, and mostly I cried for the pain the children who are injured and alone are suffering –they must be terrified, I thought.
Of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep with a heavy heart, swollen eyes and a very stuffy nose. So I did what any emotionally distraught person would do, I ate a big bowl of comfort food at 3am. A big bowl of creamy mac and cheese like this one -which I devoured standing barefoot in my kitchen in the middle of the night.
When I got to the office today, I couldn’t start working. My mind couldn’t focus and my heart once again was filled with sadness. How could it be? I prayed and prayed, asked God to help me feel less pain for others… yet here I am still thinking about the children. Then it hit me: God doesn’t want me to live “numb”! The pain I feel is meant for me to take action and live a life that is “other centered”.
And there you have it my friends. A little mid-morning revelation. For now, I leave you with this big bowl of creamy, delicious, better-than-boxed mac and cheese. It happens to be vegan, dairy free and if you want to… gluten free. These are the kinds of comfort foods my children ask for. The kind of healthy comfort foods I want you to feed your own children and eat yourself. This is food that can be made in the same amount of time it takes to make the blue box; except it’s made with ingredients that are real, better-for-you and delicious.
Pray for others, think of others, feel for others.
Better than Boxed – Homemade Mac & Cheese #prayforoklahoma
This creamy mac and cheese is as comforting as it is delicious. Check out the notes for special variations of the recipe.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Kid Friendly
- Cuisine: Family Food
- 8oz (half a 1lb box) of pasta
- 1 small sweet potato, cooked
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ – 1 cup coconut milk or any dairy free milk
- Boil pasta according to box directions. Meanwhile, cook your sweet potato in the microwave, turning it once, if needed.
- Peel sweet potato and mash it with a fork.
- In your blender or food processor, puree warm sweet potato, yellow mustard, cumin and salt to a smooth, creamy consistency. Add a splash of milk, if needed. The “sauce” will be thick not runny.
- Drain pasta and put it back the pot. On low heat, add coconut oil and mix well. Add sweet potato puree and mix until evenly distributed on low heat. Slowly pour coconut milk in the pot ½ cup at a time. How much you add depends how much “sauce” your family likes.
- Serve immediately warm.
I’ve made this recipe several times with many variations. If you can tolerate dairy, use regular milk and butter instead of coconut milk and coconut oil. For a gluten free option, use your favorite box of gluten free pasta. The yellow mustard and cumin combo add that touch of tangy/sharp/smoky flavor that the fake box tries to give…but better.