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Creamy Quinoa Chicken Broccoli Casserole

So, I have a secret to share….a bit of a confession to make…..

Ready for it???

I am the person who doesn’t let my food touch on my plate.  Whew, there I said it out loud.  **weight lifted off my shoulders**

Yes, I am THAT person.  I separate my food on my plate.  Nothing touches, AND I really don’t like mixing flavors, for example I don’t like sweet and sour, fruit with meat, sweet AND savory. I like my flavors to be separate.

However there is always an exception, right??  Well I do have an exception.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE casseroles!!  Chicken and dumplings, Minnesota hot dish, stews, chicken broccoli and rice, pot pie, shepherd’s pie, now those foods feed my soul y’all……not even joking!  But, they are less than healthy at times.  So I do my best to recreate these super yummy dishes in a more healthy version.

Today I am sharing one with you.  I absolutely adore the Cheesy chicken rice broccoli casserole, but white rice, cream of chicken soup, and lots of cheese is not so friendly to my waistline! So instead I found and tweaked a recipe to make it healthier.  I now want to introduce you to:

Picture used from myutensilcrock.com

Picture used from myutensilcrock.com

Creamy Quinoa Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
2 cups natural chicken broth (I use organic chicken base, and mix with water)
1 cup almond milk (Can use fat free milk instead if no lactose issues)
1 tsp of poultry seasoning
½ cup almond flour (If you don’t have gluten issues, you can use white whole wheat)
2 cups of water, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
3 cups of fresh broccoli florets
Sea salt and pepper to taste

(optional: 1/2 cup shredded organic cheese)

Directions:
1) Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish. Bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of almond milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other 1/2 cup almond milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms. Do not add to quickly because it can get quite lumpy.

2) Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, and quinoa, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dice the chicken and mix it into the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with more poultry seasoning if you like. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

3) Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under the cold water to blanch it. Set aside.

4) Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the right consistency. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked and the sauce is thickened, add the broccoli, shredded cheese, and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir up easily in the pan. The amount of water will depend on how thick you want the sauce to be.  I don’t always need to add any more water.

This was truly a delightfully yummy dish.  You could change it up to make it vegan by removing chicken and chicken broth, and adding in more veggies, or tofu in place of chicken.

Chicken broth base I used:  (I bought it at Harris Teeter)

chickenbase