Hey, let's talk about casseroles.
How do you feel about them?
Do you find them comforting and reminiscent of home?
Or unhealthy and filled with questionable ingredients like mayonnaise and cans of creamed soup?
I didn't really grow up eating a lot of casseroles, and I might have once looked down on anything made with canned soup.
But the truth is, it's hard for anyone to resist something creamy and baked with gooey cheese on top.
Adam and I were in Texas last weekend visiting family and we were served a cheesy enchilada casserole.
And you know what?
It was good. So good.
That got me thinking more about casseroles. They do have some wonderful qualities.
They're filling, and cheap for how many people they feed. They also freeze and reheat extremely well.
Could I make a healthy version of that casserole? Filled with lots of garden-fresh summer veggies and without any weird canned soup?
This is definitely not diet food, but it is hearty, healthy, wholesome-ingredients kinda food.
It's packed with more veggies than meat, beans for fiber, a little low-fat cream cheese for creaminess, and topped with a totally reasonable amount of tortilla chips and savory cheddar and pepperjack.
True to its casserole form, this dish is also affordable and feeds a crowd. I'm loving the fact that it used up veggies from my garden and that it can be frozen and reheated for busy nights this fall, or dolloped on some lettuce for a taco-salad lunch.
Healthy casseroles for the win.
Also, on the topic of eating what you want, this article about women and food is well worth a read.
Have a lovely week, friends!
Healthy Chicken & Veggie Taco Bake
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (This is great for leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken. If you don't have some already prepared, try this healthy poaching method like I did.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 small tomato chopped (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 8oz can low-sodium enchilada sauce
1 can black beans
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
4 ounces crushed tortilla chips
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar and pepperjack. Monterrey jack would be good too!)
extra tortilla chips
Preheat oven to 350. Set out a 9 by 13 casserole dish.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large sauce pan. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, then add zucchini, green and red peppers, and tomato. Cook for 5-7 more minutes or until vegetables are slightly soft. Add cumin, coriander, chili powder, and flour.
Stir for one minute, then add the chicken broth. Stir until bubbly and thick, then gradually add the milk. Cook until heated through and slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and add cream cheese, beans, chipotle pepper, and cooked chicken. Stir to combine. Very important--taste and add salt and pepper as needed! There are a ton of veggies in here, so they need to be well seasoned. Also keep in mind that you will be adding tortilla chips and cheese later.
Spoon enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the 9 by 13 casserole dish. Add half of the chicken and vegetable mixture. Top with half of the tortilla chops and the rest of the enchilada sauce. Add the other half of the chicken and vegetable mixture, followed by the rest of the tortilla chips and the cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly. To brown the cheese, turn oven to broil for the last minute of cooking time.
If desired, serve with salsa, black olives, green onions, lettuce, and extra tortilla chips.
Adapted from Cooking Light.
- To make more spicy, add hot sauce, or red pepper flakes, or hot enchilada sauce.
- To make gluten-free, use gluten-free flour.
- To make vegetarian, nix the chicken and add an extra can of beans or corn. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. This could be a delicious and filling vegetarian meal!