Broccoli, bison, macaroni casserole

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!


BBQ pork loin and cucumber, black bean, quinoa salad

Here’s a delicious, healthy recipe for you. It’s full of the things your body needs, and light on what it doesn’t. This dish has protein, loads of veggies, whole grain, citrus and fiber, while budgeting fat, sodium and sugar content. The bit of kick is an added bonus for your metabolism and circulation, if you can take the heat.

This meal is easy to make and convenient to prepare since you can make the salad ahead of time and let it chill while the pork marinates, leaving only the final step of grilling the pork loin. I knew I’d be in the gym all day, so it was nice to have almost everything done already when I got home. We will definitely be adding this one to the dinner rotation.

Pork loin rub

  • 0.3-0.5lb/pp pork loin

Ingredients below are per each pound of pork loin.

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil (just enough to make a paste)
My husband looked up how to grill the pork loin in a way that keeps it juicy and tender, and it came out perfect. He seared it for three minutes, or until it has black grill marks on either side, then turned the grill down to med-low to finish cooking (time will depend on thickness). Remember that it will continue to cook a little when you remove it from the heat, so take it off and let it rest for about 3 minutes before cutting. Use the rub recipe below at least 2 hours prior and let it marinate in the fridge, but bring it back to room temperature before you grill it.

Cucumber, black bean, quinoa cold salad

  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 1 chopped, seeded red pepper
  • 1 diced, seeded tomato
  • 1 chopped avocado (optional)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 can rinsed, drained black beans
  • 1 cup prepared quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp agave nectar or honey
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp pepper
Cook the quinoa according to package instructions and set aside to cool. Rinse and drain canned black beans. Chop up all of your fruits and veggies and add them to a large bowl with beans. Mix all of your liquids and spices and pour them over the veggies and beans. Finally, stir in the quinoa, cover, and put in the fridge to cool until ready to serve.
Serve pork with salad. The hot pork right off the grill is great next to the cool salad. Enjoy!