We all know it can be hard to eat healthy during the holidays. We are often dining out at parties and events, and our mealtimes can be delayed. That’s why it’s so important to have a filling meal on hand. Whether you’re hosting, bringing a dish, or having something before attending an event, this casserole is perfect to provide you with the nutrition you need and the satisfying flavor you want. Casseroles are great for serving multiple people, or to keep in the fridge so you don’t have to prepare several meals throughout the week. This one is full of protein and fiber to stave off hunger, and to keep your blood sugar stable. This will give you the energy you need to get through the busy holiday season, and the right balance of nutrients to help you maintain your weight. The cauliflower in this dish is used in place of rice, so that you can save your carbohydrates for your favorite holiday treat instead!
Low-Carb Southwest Chicken Casserole (Makes 10 servings)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 135 calories, 3 g fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 14 g protein
2 Blue Ribbon Foods Tuna Steaks
1 Blue Ribbon Foods Oriental Vegetable Blend Package
5 tablespoons Sesame Seeds
2 tablespoons Coarse Ground Pepper Corn
3 tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil (or Oil Substitute)
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1.) Thaw Tuna Steaks on plate and/or open rack for 15-20 minutes; thaw stir fry veggies in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
2.) Combine 4 TBSP sesame seed, 2 TBSP pepper corn, 2 TBSP salt, 1 TBSP garlic powder.
3.) Pour mixed ingredients out on a plate and dust all sides of the steaks.
4.) Pour 2 TBSP oil into a non-stick sauté pan; sear tuna steaks on all sides roughly 30 seconds each side.
5.) Remove tuna from pan, cover and set aside for cooling.
6.) Pour 2 TBSP oil into a non-stick sauté pan-add remaining 1 TBSP sesame seeds to pan for 1 minute of light toasting.
7.) Add thawed mixed vegetable packed to pan and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
8.) Add ¼ cup lemon juice-stir.
9.) Add 1/3 cup soy sauce-stir.
10.) Add 1 TBSP salt-stir; cover pan to steam for 2 minutes without heat.
11.) Slice tuna thinly for maximum flavor and add a side of jasmine rice if desired.
As a registered dietitian, I love hosting healthy dinner parties. One of my favorite ingredients is shrimp, because it’s a lean protein and good source of vitamin D. However, it can be tricky to cook a large batch of shrimp just in time for your guests without overcooking it. The beauty of using a crock pot is that you can allow your dish to finish cooking while you greet your guests. The bell peppers in this dish provide more than aesthetic appeal as a good source of potassium and the antioxidants beta-carotene and capsaicin. Quinoa is an excellent plant-based source of protein that provides all the essential amino acids as well as plenty of fiber. Unlike other starchy vegetables, peas also provide protein and fiber which are nutrients beneficial for satiety and blood glucose control. Serve this colorful dish that requires little active preparation time and be assured that your guests will receive a delicious meal with a host of nutritional benefits.
Ingredients For the Quinoa:
1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed
½ cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed or diced
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup sweet peas
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
For the shrimp:
2 lbs. Blue Ribbon shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup each of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
1 onion, cut into strips
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 cup white wine
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
5 fresh bay leaves
Salt and white pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
1. Bring vegetable broth and wine to a boil. Add quinoa and peas, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook 25-35 minutes, stirring often. Quinoa is done when it “pops” and looks like it has formed tails.
2. Sauté garlic, peppers, and onions with vegetable broth until slightly softened. Transfer to crock pot, add herbs, wine, and shrimp. Cook 30 minutes on low setting or until shrimp are pink and curled. Squeeze with fresh lemon juice and serve.
Nutrition information (per serving): 338 calories, 5 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 34 grams of protein
While paying attention to the ingredients used when cooking is crucial, the preparation method must also be considered. Baking, roasting, poaching, and boiling are ways to prepare foods without adding any cooking fat, which helps to avoid unnecessary calories. To satisfy the urge for something crisp and crunchy, try this recipe which uses pine nuts to add texture. Like other nuts, pine nuts are a good source of heart-healthy fats and magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that most Americans may not be getting enough of, and it has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and hypertension. So exchange fried chicken, which is full of trans fat and refined carbohydrates, for this dish instead for fewer calories and greater nutritional value.
4 Blue Ribbon chicken breasts
16 fresh mozzarella pearls (or 4 ounces cubed mozzarella)
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup egg whites
1/2 cup diced plum tomatoes
½ cup diced green and yellow bell peppers
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 cloves minced garlic
4 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice chicken breasts down the middle to create a pocket and squeeze with juice from the lemons. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Use a food processor or spice grinder to blend pine nuts into a course powder.
4. Coat each chicken breast with egg whites followed by pine nuts and arrange in baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray.
5. Combine tomatoes, diced bell peppers, salt, pepper, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.
6. Stuff each chicken breast with the tomato and pepper mixture, followed by 4 pearls (or 1 ounce) of mozzarella. Sprinkle with oregano.
7. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve atop a bed of baby greens.
Nutritional information for one chicken breast: 328 calories, 31 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber.
Makes 6 Servings
Often times, when we think of Italian food, rich, heavy, starchy dishes with pasta and cheese come to mind. Lasagna is a perfect example, and oftentimes is accompanied by garlic bread on the side. Many recipes reduce the meat or cheese in lasagna recipes to decrease calories, however these ingredients are full of valuable protein. Protein is an essential nutrient that has many important functions, most commonly known for being the building block of our muscles. It also helps to build antibodies to protect us against infections. In addition, protein is more effective than carbohydrates in decreasing hunger and providing satiety. It promotes stable blood sugar, so it is beneficial to include some protein at every mealtime. However, many protein rich foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, so be sure to choose low-fat varieties when available and avoid consuming too much protein overall. Speak with a registered dietitian to find out how much protein you need to reach your personal health goals.
1 lb. Blue Ribbon All-Natural Ground Beef
¼ cup jarred tomato sauce
2 bell peppers, assorted colors, cut into thins strips
½ yellow onion, cut into thin strips
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 cup liquid egg whites
1 tsp. crushed fennel
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 cup muffin tin
Nonstick cooking spray
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a nonstick skillet, sauté peppers, onions, and garlic. Add balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until onions become translucent. Set aside.
2. Cook ground beef in same skillet. To reduce fat, drain beef in a colander, and then move to a plate lined with paper towels. Let sit for one minute, and blot ground beef with paper towels.
3. Move ground beef back to skillet on low-heat, and add tomato sauce and spices. Cook 1 minute or until warm.
4. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray. Add a thin layer of egg whites to each cup. Top with a layer of ricotta cheese, followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella, and a spoonful of the ground beef. Repeat starting with the egg whites. Top with the sautéed pepper and onion mixture, followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella.
5. Baked for 20 minutes covered with aluminum foil, followed by 10 minutes uncovered.
6. Enjoy lasagna cups with a salad and a slice of garlic bread if desired.
Nutrition Information (per 2 cups): 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 35 grams of protein