Dear Elise,

My husband is a picky eater. He also has lactose intolerance. With the exception of chicken he does not eat meat. The chicken also needs to be boneless and skinless. And he prefers chicken tenders. He likes them very plain – maybe with a little Italian dressing.

He also likes pasta, but only with the addition of a plain meatless sauce free from chunks of tomato!

He does likes pancakes, but no eggs.

He uses soy to make his own macaroni and cheese but after recently changing the ingredients it just doesn’t taste as good.

I am running out of options as to what to serve for dinner. Can you help me with some creative ideas to help him try new and different foods?

Karen Gould, North Carolina Lover of a Picky-Spouse

Dear Karen,

Ah, yes, the picky eater quandary. Your letter reminds me of the book Happy Birthday Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I read the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series to my children when they were younger.

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has lots of magic remedies for child behavior problems. If only Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle were around today to offer more cures. Many of her suggestions however would work well with adults. But let’s just keep that, well, between us, shall we?

“A lactose intolerant picky eater”, well, let’s see…

To my knowledge, folks who are lactose intolerant can eat eggs, but if your hubby is not fond of eggs, no worries. In the case of pancakes, I often substitute olive oil for eggs. The end result is a fluffier, lighter pancake. Some of my fall favorites which can use almond or rice milk are: pumpkin granola pancakes, cinnamon roll pancakes, and wholegrain apple pancakes.

In the case of chicken, I have several ways for you to make eating boneless skinless chicken breasts more exciting! I buy my boneless skinless chicken breasts in bulk at BJ’s Wholesale Club which saves our family lots of money. I save time purchasing a large package which contains sealed bags of four chicken breasts in each.

Before heading to the grocery store I take a few minutes to prepare a few marinades and place them in the refrigerator until I return home. I also label and date freezer bags. When I return home, I divide the marinades into the labeled and dated bags. I dry my chicken breasts well (never wash because you can actually spread bacteria) and place in your freezer bags. Pour the marinades in.

Some of my favorite marinades are: Filipino Barbecue, Lemon and Garlic, Jerk, and Portuguese.

When it comes to pasta sauces without dairy or pasta (without chunks of tomatoes of course) I would recommend my cavatappi or favorite pasta and tomatoes and garlic. While the tomatoes can be left chunky they can also be squished using a potato masher. My grandmother’s fresh tomato sauce is the best I have ever enjoyed and the texture can also be made to your liking.

Many vegans use almond or rice milk in their macaroni and cheese. While I have never made dairy-free macaroni and cheese I did find a recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess that looks very promising: The Best Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

Hope this helps!

Happy cooking,



Remember Dear Abby? I loved reading that column as a kid.

I just love reading and answering the questions you send me!

Answering your questions is fun. It keeps me connected with you and it feels great to know that I can perhaps help you in some way.

That is why I created… drumroll please…

… the new ASK ELISE section of

Do you need advice on meal planning?
Do you have a picky eater?
Would you like to recreate a recipe your parents once made?
Did your spouse have a certain recipe he/she grew up enjoying? Would you like to recreate it for him/her?
Are you having trouble improving a certain recipe?
Are you having trouble getting yourself or your family interested in cooking?
Do you have cooking tips you would like to share with others?
Perhaps you have a recipe you’d like to share and a short story that goes with it.

I look forward to reading more of your questions and tips. The ASK ELISE section will be updated every week. I will answer as many questions as I can by email and some will be chosen to be featured in ASK ELISE on weekly.

Who knows, I may even answer in a video. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Please send your questions to Please be sure to include “ASK ELISE” in the subject line.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon!