When the Nine Days (i.e., the first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av) come, the parent of a food-allergic child tends to get even more creative than usual. In our family, some of the common favorites on menus around the world during the Nine Days are completely off-limits, as we are fish-, dairy-, egg-, nuts- (and a ton of other foods) free. We tend to eat soy-heavy foods, but I have some other alternative recipes as well. Here are some of our favorite recipes for the Nine Days.

Non-Dairy Macaroni and Cheese

  • ½ cup margarine (butter if you can have dairy)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped well (optional, but gives good flavor, and my kids don’t notice)
  • ¼ cup flour (you can use wheat, rice, oat, and probably most other flours. I have made it successfully with these three)
  • A dash of salt
  • 6 cups milk of choice (we have used real milk, soy, rice, oat, and even non-dairy creamer or whip!)
  • 16 oz. noodles (works wonderfully with gluten-free noodles and regular noodles. We like to mix up the shapes)
  • 1–2 packages of Tofutti “cheese” (to get it to melt, stack the slices in a pile and slice along length and then width, making little squares)
  • Veggies of choice

Melt margarine and add in onion. Sauté until they are clear. Add in flour of choice and cook for a few minutes. Add in milk of choice and stir really well. I like to use a whisk for this to get out clumps. Once you have it brought to a boiling point, add in your noodles. Let this cook on simmer until the sauce is creamy and thick and the noodles are cooked through. Add in the Tofutti “cheese” and take it off the heat. Mix until it is fully melted. If you want, you can add in veggies that have been steamed, or put in a baking dish and top with chip crumbs or bread crumbs and bake for a few minutes. Sometimes I slice a tomato really thin and cover the top and bake.

Burritos and Quesadillas

  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Fillings/toppings of choice (we like to use avocado, Tofutti “cheese,” beans of any kind, tomatoes, pizza sauce, veggies galore. You can also use lentils, split peas, and pretty much anything you have leftover in the fridge)
  • Tofutti “sour cream” (optional topping)

For quesadillas: lay out tortillas on a cookie sheet and put stuffing all over them. Top with another tortilla and bake till all gooey.

For burrito: lay it down, fill center, fold parallel sides and than roll up. (If you want to melt Tofutti inside, put on cookie sheet and bake till warm.)

For corn tortilla toppers, we like to take some corn tortillas and either bake (spray both sides with some cooking spray) to crisp and heat or throw them in a frying pan and crisp up. Set out a wide display of fillers and let everyone top as they eat.

Bean Chili

  • 4–5 cans of beans
  • Imitation ground beef or sausage (optional)
  • 4–6 ripe tomatoes
  • 2–3 onions
  • 3–4 peppers—all colors
  • Spices (chili powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, pepper)

Sauté onions and place them in a crockpot. Take the imitation meat and roll into very tiny balls, then brown in the same pan that you cooked onions in. Put into the crockpot. Add in the cans of beans with the juice, and add the tomatoes and peppers. Cook on high for about two hours. Once the two hours are over, I turn the heat down to low and add in a drizzle of each of my spices. I mix and walk away. Wait another two hours, and repeat. I do this one more time, and usually things are looking good. I taste and then add in spice as needed. We like it spicy, so I tend to use a lot of chili powder and garlic powder.

We like to serve the chili over noodles. My husband’s favorite is the type of noodles that look like a thick spaghetti but have a hole in the center so they pick up the extra juice. We put some noodles in the bowl, chili on top, fried onions, and than a bit of Tofutti “sour cream.” Sometimes we will even add a bit of fresh guacamole.

Quinoa Stuffed Vegetables

I have used eggplant and zucchinis for this recipe, but you can use peppers, tomatoes, and any other vegetable that can be stuffed!

Cut loads of veggies into small chunks. I tend to use zucchinis, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and sometimes asparagus. Sauté them in a tiny bit of oil. When they are cooked through, add in the quinoa and toast for a few minutes. Add in, as the directions state on your quinoa box, enough water to cook it. Let the quinoa cook.

Prepare your vegetables for stuffing. Core the centers of the vegetables and lay in a baking dish. I try to use the centers of the veggies I am stuffing in the quinoa mix instead of throwing them out. When the quinoa filling is done, stuff the vegetables and top with tomato sauce. Bake till the outer vegetables are cooked through.

I make my own homemade tomato sauce. I take 2–3 large onions, cut them up and sauté a bit. I then add in about 8–10 tomatoes off the vine. I cut those into quarters. I mix it and let it all cook down for a few minutes. I then add a few swigs of sweet white wine into the pot (should be about 3–4 inches from the bottom) to sweeten it up a little more, some salt to taste, and then again mix and let it cook. After about 15–20 minutes I take my immersion blender and blend it down. Once it is smooth, I let it simmer for another half an hour or so, and it’s ready.

Spaghetti and “Meatballs”

A package of fake ground meat. I make little “meatballs” and brown them in a skillet. Cook pasta of choice. I use my homemade sauce from above and add in some Italian spices. Mix it all together, and my kids never even realize that it’s not the real deal.

Potato Bake Night

Cook a number of potatoes, either on the grill (in foil wraps) or in the oven.

Steam any vegetables which your family likes. For some protein, we like to take canned beans, heat them up and then mash them. Tofutti “sour cream” and margarine are also staples for us with this meal. Bring everything out in bowls and let each family member get creative with their toppings.


I learned from a friend to use a white sauce in addition to tomato sauce. This adds a lot of depth to a meat- and cheese-free lasagna.

Sauté any vegetable that you normally would use in your lasagna. We like to use onions, zucchini and spinach. We also will sometimes add in some fake ground meat for some protein. To make the white sauce you need margarine, flour of your choice (oat and rice work!), salt, and water or milk substitute. You need to start by melting the margarine and than adding the flour. Slowly add in your liquids till it is the consistency you want. I like to make it not very thick, but not runny.

Take your tomato sauce and put down a layer in the pan. Place noodles, a bit more tomato sauce, veggie, white sauce, noodle, tomato sauce, fake meat and/or veggie, white sauce (sometimes instead of white sauce in this layer I will chop some Tofutti up and put in there), noodles, tomato sauce. (You can add another layer, or finish it there. I usually put in three layers of vegetables.) On the last layer, put in the noodle, tomato sauce, and then the rest of the white sauce. Cover and bake.

Dairy-Free Pizza

One last dish that is always popular in our home is personal pizzas.

We make small individual pizzas so everyone can have their favorite toppings. You can either leave it with just pizza sauce and toppings, or you can chop up Tofutti slices and top it with that. The Tofutti will melt as long as you chopped it, so don’t put it too close to the edges.

The Nine Days can be a source of a lot of stress and worry for families with food allergies and intolerances. Hopefully these recipes will help you feel more in control of your meals during the Nine Days and give you some good menu options.