I love making casseroles during the holidays because they’re something simple in the midst of December madness.
Between baking cookies, shopping, decorating and wrapping presents, there isn’t much time left for extravagant dinners. Unfortunately, lack of time leads to poor nutritional choices, so I want to share a nutritionally balanced casserole recipe that’s so easy you could even pass the chef duties off to the house novice.
In this casserole, I’ve opted to use bison as my lean meat because bison are grass-fed and their meat is very nutrient-dense in proportion to the caloric value.
Another healthy choice is using quinoa elbow noodles instead of regular pasta. Quinoa pasta is higher in protein, fiber, calcium, iron and amino acids than regular pasta, and it’s also lower in sodium.
Finally, although the casserole is topped with cheddar cheese (Cheddar makes everything beddar, right?), the cheesy, creaminess inside comes from a mixture of diced tomatoes (any variety is fine, as long as there is no added salt) and light, swiss Laughing Cow cheese.
The combination of ingredients in this recipe give you the most nutrient-dense bang for your buck, without skimping on flavor. You’ve got your grain, your greens, lean protein and calcium, all in one yummy package.
Broccoli, bison, macaroni casserole
- 12 oz ground bison
- 8 oz frozen or fresh broccoli (pulsed in the food processor)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (drained) (added ingredients like basil, garlic, etc. are fine, but look for cans that read “no salt added”)
- 1/2 tsp season salt (such as Tony Chachere’s)
- 5 wedges of light, swiss Laughing Cow cheese
- 1/2 box of Quinoa elbow noodles
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
Preheat oven to 400F. Boil water for pasta and cook according to box instructions. Spray a skillet with oil and cook bison. Add broccoli, tomatoes, season salt and laughing cow wedges. Cook until wedges are melted and add pasta. Mix well and pour into glass casserole dish. Top with grated cheddar and bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil and cook for another 2 minutes. Enjoy!
- 1 Tbsp fennel seed
- 3 garlic cloves – minced
- zest of one orange (save the insides for your jello)
- 1 1/2 Tbsps chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 pork loin (the one I used was just under 2 lbs)
- 2 cans of northern beans
- juice of one lemon
- Pulp from orange you zested for the pork (I used blood orange, but they’re more easy to come by in Italy)
- 1 package of sugar-free lemon jello mix
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- 1.5 cups of cold water
Man, do I love the incredible, edible egg?!
Eggs are nutritious, delicious, and cheap to buy. They are also easy to make in a bunch of different ways. The only suggestions I have are 1) don’t go crazy and start drinking raw eggs, and 2) use mostly whites to keep the cholesterol low.
If I have eggs in the fridge, I can make a meal.
When I was single, I had omelets for dinner all the time because they were fast and easy to make into whatever size meal I wanted. I still make them often for myself when my husband is deployed.
I’m not just cooking for me now, but I still use eggs as a main dinner ingredient often. I made a frittata last night, which was amazingly easy and yummy, and my husband’s response was, “Wow! This is fancy!” He doesn’t need to know I didn’t have to slave away in the kitchen.
“Yes, honey. It was hard, but it means so much to me to feed you a great dinner after you’ve worked so hard all day. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Oh, and could you please get me a glass of vino, do the dishes and rub my shoulders when you’re done eating?”
Throw some flour on your face and milk it!
- 3 slices lean bacon cut into small pieces
- 2 small red potatoes or one small sweet potato (diced, skin on)
- Half small onion (sweet if you can get it) (diced)
- Half a bag of arugula
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
- s&p to taste
Heat oven to 350.
In an oven safe skillet, start to cook your bacon. Cook for 5 mins over medium heat, then add in potato and onion. Cook for about 8 mins (or until potatoes start to get soft) and add arugula.
You might notice that I didn’t mention oil, butter, or draining of bacon grease. The three slices of bacon should make a small enough amount of grease that 1) you shouldn’t have to drain it, and 2) you can use it instead of adding other oil/butter.
In a bowl, whisk 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites. Add cottage cheese, parmesan and agave to egg mixture.
Once all arugula has wilted, turn off the burner and pour the egg mixture over the skillet ingredients. Move skillet to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until firm. If your dish will allow the heat, you can turn the oven to broil for the last 5 minutes to make the top toasty, but you don’t have to, and it’s not worth ruining a skillet just to make it a little prettier.
Serve next to toasted english muffins or a side salad and you’ve got a nutritious, high protein, low-fat meal!
When life gives you lemons, I definitely want you to make them into something yummy that isn’t sour, but lemonade is a bit high in sugar. Can we compromise on your optimistic response to the lemons with a delicious, healthy dinner instead?
Lemons actually have a lot to offer, so technically, if life gives you lemons, you should say “thank you”, because they’re a positive in their own right.
Lemons are great for normalizing blood pressure, body temperature and tissue inflammation, regulating the body’s water balance, cleansing your other organs (including your epidermis), easing digestion, boosting immunity, repelling insects, and they are also a nondairy source of calcium.
Below is a recipe I made over the weekend after picking up some fresh lemons at a market. As convenient as it is that seasoning companies make lemon flavored blends, the blends are nothing compared to the taste fresh lemon juice and zest add to a dish.
Ain’t nothin like the real thing baby. Ain’t nothin like the real thing. Turn on some groovy music (yes, it’s 2011 and I say “groovy”) and get to cooking.
Lemon-Garlic-Herb Chicken and Broccoli Recipe
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- Juice of 2 large lemons
- Zest of one lemon
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp. Italian herbs
- 2 cups chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- s&p to taste
Marinate chicken in juice and zest of one lemon, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp Italian herbs for at least 2 hours. Grill 10-12 mins on each side at med-low heat.
Cook quinoa in water as instructed on the package.
Heat butter, remaining 1 tsp of garlic and juice of one lemon in a skillet. Add broccoli and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until liquid evaporates. Add quinoa, feta and a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper.
Serve with chicken.
Enjoy your dinner knowing that you’re getting your greens, grains, protein, fiber, vitamin C and calcium in a delicious, low fat meal you can feel good about.