Guest post by Kaylie Daniels
Texas Woman's University Dietetic Intern
Being an intern comes with having a busy schedule, so it can be tough at times to make sure I continue to make healthy choices throughout the day, specially come dinnertime. To keep things easy, I like to have one-dish meals that can be made with little prep time and reheated for other meals throughout the week. I spend more time prepping meal components on the weekends, so the work is already done for weeknights. Its great to have multiple sides and protein options precut or cooked so I can just put a meal together when I get home. Generally, I always try to include at least 3 to 4 food groups.
An easy way to get multiple food groups in one dish is to make a casserole that can be reheated on one of those busy weeknights. Plus, who does not love good comfort food this time of year. Casseroles may get a bad rap due to their typical cheesy and creamy ingredients but with a few changes they can be made healthy. Since it’s fall and winter squashes are in season, I am sharing a fall themed casserole I have made recently that was a hit with my family. I made the casserole the night before and we were all able to heat up our own portion as we got home the next day. Doing all the work the night before was well worth it!
This filling and yummy casserole has chicken, butternut squash, rice, spinach and cranberries. What I loved about this dish were the pops of color and flavor. I also found that it is easy to add or remove ingredients. If there are particular seasonings or vegetables that you prefer feel free to substitute.
Time-saving Tip: Buying precut vegetables and quick cook rice can help cut down preparation time.
Makes 6-8 servings!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHICKEN CASSEROLE
- 2 cups rice blend (to save on time I used a quick cook multi grain rice medley 2 bags/2 cups = 4 servings)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced. (I use rotisserie chicken or chicken I cooked from other recipes to save time)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 3 cups spinach
- ¾ dried cranberries (I used reduced sugar)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (dried 1 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (dried 1 teaspoon
- 1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese or cheese of choice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 9x13-baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook rice to according to package directions then set aside (The minute rice I used took 10 minutes).
- While rice is cooking peel and cut the butternut squash into ½ inch pieces, you will get roughly 5 cups.
- If cooking chicken heat oil in skillet and sauté the diced chicken until done (no pink inside), remove and set aside. Wipe skillet clean. If using already prepared chicken cut/shred up and set aside.
- In a large, deep skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, squash, salt and pepper. Sauté until the onions start to become clear. Cover and let cook. Be sure to stir occasionally. Once the squash is tender (about 8 minutes) stir in the chicken, rice, cranberries, spinach, ½ cup cheese, and remaining seasonings.
- Move mixture into the baking dish and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven to sprinkle remaining ½ cup cheese on top of the casserole. Bake for additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. (To retain moisture you can cover for the first 20 minutes of cooking then uncover to melt the cheese).
Original recipe adapted from: https://www.wellplated.com/chicken-and-wild-rice-casserole/
Kaylie Daniels is a dietetic intern and graduate student at Texas Women's University.
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