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!
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)
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
I love fried rice, but the sodium content and fat to carbohydrate ratio work against my waistline, so I’ve become the girl who always asks for steamed rice and then sneaks bites of fried goodness from my husband’s plate. Healthy attempt = Epic fail
Yesterday afternoon found me more tired than usual, and I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. I rummaged through our fridge and pantry for dinner options only to find we had a little of this and a little of that, but not a lot of anything. Such a predicament always means one of three things in our house: we’re having 1) omelets (throw everything in with eggs), 2) soup (throw everything in with broth) or, 3) stir-fry (just throw everything in).
Lo and behold (an idiom best said with a British accent), my evening mix-up turned into a healthier replacement for my long-lost indulgence, fried rice.
The nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture of quinoa in this recipe act more like fried rice without the need for a ton of oil – whereas sometimes rice gets too soft without it.
Feel free to play with this recipe in terms of what veggies you like (carrots, snow pea pods, and red peppers would be delicious, too). Keep in mind that I was working off of what I had on hand. The main things you’ll want to keep the same are the amount of quinoa, oil and soy sauce.
DO NOT add any salt or pepper to this recipe. Remember, we are trying to keep the sodium count as low as possible with respect to the fact that we are using some soy sauce. You don’t want to wake up all swollen and bloated wondering why you can’t get your rings on.
Quinoa Stir-Fry Recipe
- 2 cups quinoa (cooked – so, 1 cup dry + 2 cups water, or according to package)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 chicken breast diced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 cup garbanzo beans
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 1/4 cups of frozen peas
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
- Optional: sprinkle or red pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds
In a large skillet/wok, cook chicken in oil over medium heat. Once you can no longer see any pink, throw in garlic, beans and onion. Cook for 3 mins, stirring frequently so as not to burn garlic. Add in frozen peas and cook for another 3 mins. Scoot ingredients to one side of the pan and add egg to the other side. Scramble egg and mix the ingredients together in the skillet. Stir in sesame oil and ginger. Next, add in quinoa and mix well. Add soy sauce and cilantro, and any other remaining ingredients (red pepper, seeds), stir well and serve hot.
I like to eat asian dishes with chopsticks because it forces me to eat more slowly, and because we own really cute chopsticks.