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!
This recipe combines sweet-heat with some cool lime yogurt and peppery greens. It’s pretty much a party in your mouth. Although, unlike some parties, this one won’t leave you with a hangover. Low fat, low carb, high fiber, high protein, lots of vitamins and even some calcium means you can feel good enjoying every bite.
Jerk pineapple pork chops with black beans, lime yogurt and arugula
- 1 can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
- 1 can crushed pineapple in 100% juice
- 2 stalks of scallions chopped
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1.5 tsp allspice
- 1/2 de-seeded habanero / 1 de-seeded jalapeno / 1/2 tsp cayenne (choose your heat)
- 4 bone in pork chops
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 can black beans
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp agave nectar or honey
- 1 small container of plain yogurt
- bag/bunch of arugula
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.