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Skinny Broccoli and Cheese Casseroles
I came up with these mini broccoli casseroles from my mom's amazing casserole recipe I grew up eating as a kid. I used little ramekins for individual portion sizes (well, because they're just so fun to use), but you could of course make this into one giant dish of yummy goodness!
I mean, c'mon folks, how could you not like something that's low in fat, high in protein, and full of cheesy deliciousness? Oh yes, and only three Weight Watchers points.
Click here to see Comfort Food Alternatives.
*Note: You can also use fresh broccoli; just skip the thawing process in the beginning.
- One 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli florets*
- 6 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon light butter, melted
- Slivered almonds, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Healthy Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole
Healthy Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole is soul-satisfying comfort food that's a little easier on your waistline!
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Today I’m sharing a fabulous spin on a classic, comforting casserole – Healthy Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole!
Sauteed chicken, steamed broccoli, and fluffy brown rice are mixed with a homemade cheese sauce then quickly broiled for a fabulous, comforting meal. It’s kind of an “un-casserole” as you don’t have to let the dish bake in the oven, rather, everything is made right on the stovetop then tossed together in a casserole dish and quickly broiled.
I also tweaked a few of the ingredients from the standard Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole to make it a bit healthier. More broccoli, brown rice instead of white, plus the luscious homemade cheese sauce that brings everything together has less cheese, light sour cream, and skim milk. BOOM. This casserole ROCKS!
Skinny Broccoli Cheese Casserole
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I have a problem. I am trying to trim away about 10 pounds, and I find it impossible because I crave cheese and carbs all the time! There is something so comforting about a big bowl of cheesy pasta, quesadilla, or pizza. Salads do not give me the same satisfaction (however I do feel better in the long run!).
I have never had an issue with weight before because I have always been active, but the older I get the harder it is to stay trim (it's because I don't care as much about my out appearance like I did when I was younger).
But now that I have gained a few extra pounds (and have been eating garbage), I have notice my energy level has dropped. My clothes don't fit right (and they are uncomfortable), and frankly I just don't feel good. So I am going to lose this weight for me.
The solution: Make "skinny" versions of my favorites so I don't feel deprived and binge eat. This Skinny Broccoli Cheese Casserole is a DELICIOUS healthy version of the classic Broccoli Cheese Casserole (even Nolan approved it). What makes it skinny? I substitute broth for cream, and cauliflower rice for regular rice. It's a surprisingly easy recipe to make, and it solves my cheesy comfort food cravings!
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
If you’re looking for a pantry proof dinner, look no further! This Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole is a quick, easy to make, delicious dinner that is sure to please the whole family. It’s cooked all in one dish for easy clean up and only uses a handful of ingredients that are pretty versatile to change up if need be.
I kept this rather traditional casserole lightened up by using a greek yogurt in place of sour cream. I also used a reduced sodium soup instead of the plain-sane version. And of course, chicken breast as opposed to dark meat.
I used a frozen broccoli that I thawed, but fresh broccoli or any other veggie of course would work as well. Peas and carrots, zucchini, spinach, etc. I normally would have opted for a reduced fat cheese, but being as the world is right now, I only have regular full fat cheese on hand.
Even so, this casserole is well under 350 calories per serving. And that’s with the REGULAR cheese. Using a low fat cheddar will lower that even more!
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
This one dish casserole is as traditional and easy as they come. Chicken. Broccoli. Cheese. Rice! A simple dinner that everyone will love.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes • Cook Time: 55 Minutes
• 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
• 2 C. Long Grain White Rice, Cooked
• 1/2 C. Unsweetened Almond Milk
• 1/2 C. Plain Fat Free Greek Yogurt
• 1 (10.75 Oz.) Reduced Sodium Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
• 2 C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
• 2 C. Frozen Broccoli, Thawed
• Salt & Pepper to Taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly coat the insides of a 13x9” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and toss it with salt and pepper to taste in the bottom of the baking dish.
Place the chicken into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
Note: The chicken won’t be completely done, but that’s fine! We’re cooking it more later!
Whisk together the 1/2 C. milk, 1/2 C. greek yogurt, and 10.75 Oz. chicken soup in a large bowl.
Stir in the chicken, 1 C. cheese, and 2 C. broccoli to the soup mixture.
Finally, stir in the cooked rice until it’s all well mixed.
Lightly coat the inside of the 13x9” dish again and transfer the chicken and rice mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Top it off with the remaining 1 C. cheddar cheese, cover, and place in the oven to baked for 35 minutes.
Once done, remove from the oven and divide only among bowls or plates to serve and enjoy right away.
Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Rice Casserole
This Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Rice Casserole is soooo good that I made it yesterday for the very first time with ham leftovers from Christmas Dinner and I&rsquom already here posting it for y&rsquoall to make! It&rsquos so good that I made it yesterday and the entire pan is already gone.
If you&rsquove been around for a while you probably know that Mom&rsquos Chicken and Rice was the first &ldquorice casserole&rdquo to appear on the blog. Since then, I&rsquove made quite a few variations of it that are all very, very popular here on The Skinnyish Dish! I decided to end the year with this one because it&rsquos so good. I don&rsquot think I&rsquove posted a rice casserole this year yet so, better late than never (staying true to my life motto)!
It&rsquos a great way to use up leftover Holiday Ham if you have some and don&rsquot know exactly what to do with it. If you don&rsquot have ham leftovers don&rsquot worry just grab a ham steak at your local grocery store! Heck, some ham fresh from the deli would probably work just as well too.
Let&rsquos get in the kitchen and make Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Rice Casserole!
In a large hot skillet sprayed with a little cooking spray throw in one medium chopped onion, one cup&rsquoa chopped carrots, and eight ounces of diced ham (or about 1-1/2 cups). Season with just a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Let it all hang out in there for awhile over medium heat until the carrots are softened.
Psst. This would be a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees too!
When the carrots are softened stir in about three cups of roughly chopped frozen broccoli. Cook everything together for just a minute.
*I use a bag of the Birds Eye steam fresh broccoli florets. I throw the bag on the counter while I&rsquom chopping up the carrots, onion, and ham to let it naturally thaw for a few minutes. It just makes it easier to chop up into smaller pieces.*
We&rsquore already to the last part! See how easy? Grab a 9×13 casserole dish and spray it fairly well with some cooking spray. Pour in one cup of raw white long grain rice (do not use minute rice!), 3.5 ounce of shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar (one cup), one 10.5 ounce can of cream of celery soup, the veggie and ham mixture, 1/2 teaspoon of Lawry&rsquos Seasoned Salt, and 2 cups of vegetable broth.
I know y&rsquoall are gonna ask if you can use brown rice (especially if you&rsquore doing the WW Purple Plan)! Since I just made this recipe yesterday and haven&rsquot had a chance to test it using brown rice. I can&rsquot tell you it&rsquos for sure going to work, but from experience with my other rice casseroles . You can swap out brown rice for the white rice, but it will need an additiona l 15-20 minutes in the oven. I also always add 1/4 cup extra liquid to be safe when using brown rice in casseroles as well.
Stir the ingredients up real good!
I always take this picture of the last step in my rice casserole recipes. It isn&rsquot a very pretty photo, but it&rsquos important! I post it here with hopes that it&rsquoll be burned into your brains. Ha! Seriously though, do not forget to cover your casserole dish tightly with tin foil. You&rsquoll be sorely disappointed if you skip this step.
Now, pop&rsquor in the oven for about an hour! I know, ugh an hour? It&rsquos worth it, promise. Now you&rsquove got a whole hour of complete hands off time to do whatever you want! &hellip. Or laundry, for me it&rsquos always laundry.
All done! Salt & Pepper to taste. Forks out. Dig in!
Oh and Pepper gobbled this Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Rice Casserole right up for dinner last night. She&rsquos been a bit picky these last couple months. I&rsquom talkin&rsquo the kind of picky where I bought unicorn shaped mac and cheese and she lost her dang mind kind of picky so I think we can call her eating this without complaint a pretty big win.
I hope you all enjoy! Remember to let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love to hear your thoughts!
Sneak in more veggies:
The thing i love about this recipe, is how easy it is to add more veggies to it, and sneak them in. I recommend the broccoli, but if you are looking to add more greens to the mix, here are a few vegetables that would be delicious, that I highly recommend:
- zucchini squash
- yellow squash
Really any veggie would work great with this recipe. If you chop it up small enough, nobody will ever know what it is, and it will all be smothered in cheese, that they won’t even care.
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Bake
We can't get enough of this cheesy rice bake stuffed with chicken, broccoli, and cheddar. The brilliance of this dish isn't just the flavor combo&mdashit's the fact that you're making it all in one pan. one pan, people! We're talkin' weeknight dinner GOLD.
Can I make it without heavy cream?
You certainly can, but it will be a very different dish. If you're looking to lighten it up, feel free to use whole milk instead. If dairy doesn't sit well with you, replace the cream with another cup of chicken broth. (And obviously, omit the cheddar!)
Can I use regular bread crumbs instead of Panko?
We always prefer to use Panko, because it is much more light and crisp than classic breadcrumbs. In a pinch, classic bread crumbs (or homemade bread crumbs!) work just fine.
Can I use brown rice instead of white rice?
Yep! Just add an extra 1/2 cup chicken broth, and keep a little extra on the side to add in case the skillet is looking dry.
Can I customize the recipe?
Absolutely! One of our favorite twists is adding a couple strips of cooked, crumbled bacon. Want to make a simpler addition? Finish the casserole with some finely slice scallions or chives!
How do I store leftovers and how long will it keep?
I would cover the baking dish or transfer or it to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Yes, you can freeze this broccoli casserole with cream cheese. One of the best things about casseroles is that they are so easy to make ahead and reheat.
After you steam the broccoli in the pressure cooker, stir in the cheeses and let the casserole cool completely. Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish, sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese, cover tightly, and freeze.
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven until hot.
TIP: Give the broccoli cheddar casserole a good stir after freezing and reheating!
There are many ways you can change up this recipe.
If you don’t want to use greek yogurt, you can use light sour cream
Use whatever breadcrumbs you have- I once made this and used a leftover loaf of challah. I cut it up, toasted it and gave it a whirl in my food processor! Moral of the story-use what you have on hand!
Use fresh or frozen broccoli but note that when fresh broccoli looks yellow and becomes limp it shouldn’t be consumed!
Skinny Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
I may not be a mama just yet, but I do know how stubborn little ones can be about getting their veggies! After all, I was one of them. Sure, I’d force down some kind of green for dinner every night – and sometimes, it’s still a struggle! But I’d always be wishing it was an extra scoop of mashed potatoes or a fluffy piece of garlic bread instead. When that wish didn’t come true, though, it was usually broccoli. And, on those once-in-a-while weeknights, broccoli with a creamy homemade cheese sauce!
If there was a way to make the classic cheesy broccoli side even more appealing to both adults and kids, THIS is it. Just boil your pasta and broccoli all in the same pot, make a quick cheese sauce, toss it all into a casserole dish, and bake until bubbly. A quick broil gives a nice golden crust that gives way to molten, gooey mac. It’s pretty much heaven!
This easy broccoli mac ‘n cheese is perfect alongside your favorite comfort foods, and makes a simple side to pair with a grocery store rotisserie chicken – that’s what we did last night! And it was amazing.
Just keepin’ it real, folks.
Compared to other cream-heavy macaroni and cheeses, this one clocks in at just over 300 calories per serving. Not bad for a big scoopful! You can also try my butter-free roasted vegetable mac ‘n cheese. Chock full of colorful veggies and cheddar cheese, with a little kick that keeps it kid-friendly. Another major favorite in this house!
I know you’ll love this mouthwatering broccoli macaroni and cheese just as much as we did. Next time, I think I’ll add some cooked, chopped up ham or chicken to make it a full meal!