I really like recipes that you can “cook once” but then “eat twice.”  You know what I mean.  Recipes, you can easily make a double-batch of, serving half of it now and the other half later.   Sort of like a two-for-one meal prepping plan.  That means dinner on the table and a bonus meal for those busy nights ahead.

Here’s a basic chicken and broccoli casserole I recently made that does just that.  It makes a meal for 8 but, to extend the meal into two meals, divide it up in half using 8-inch square pans.  Cook one half of it now and freeze the other half until ready to use.

The nice thing I really liked about this recipe – besides that it makes a double batch – is it replaces traditional spaghetti and uses in its place, spaghetti squash.  If you’ve never used spaghetti squash, you really must.  Microwave it, then take a fork and start “raking” the interior into threads of “spaghetti.”  It’s the coolest thing ever!  By using spaghetti squash – a nonstarchy vegetable – in place of traditional spaghetti, this low-carb meal is a winner for anyone needing to watch their carb intake, such as those with diabetes.

In this version of a chicken and broccoli casserole, spaghetti squash takes on a creamy texture when baked with cream of mushroom soup. Use low sodium cream of mushroom soup, saving you excess salt which can aggravate high blood pressure.

Packed with fiber-rich veggies and protein-rich chicken, this tasty and flavorful dish will be a satisfying meal anytime of the year. Have it with slices of cut-up fruit such as apples or oranges on the side, and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time.

Photo taken by Cheryl Mussatto

Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake – serves 8

Nutrition per serving: Calories – 273; Total Fat – 11 grams; Protein – 25 grams; Cholesterol – 71 milligrams; Sodium – 490 milligrams; Carbohydrates – 19 grams.

Ingredients:

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)

4 cups of broccoli florets

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 10-ounce package sliced mushrooms

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon ground pepper

2 10-ounce cans reduced sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat two, 8-inch square baking dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side down on a microwave safe plate and add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on high about 10-12 minutes or until the flesh can be scrapped with a fork but is still tender-crisp. Scrape the strands onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Place broccoli in a microwave-safe dish, add 1 tablespoon water and cover. Microwave on high, stirring occasionally until just barely tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cut-up uncooked chicken and cook, stirring for about 8-10 minutes. Add onion and continue cooking until the onion is tender and the mushrooms and chicken are lightly browned.
  5. Stir in garlic, thyme and pepper, cook stirring for 30 seconds. Stir in soup (undiluted with water) and heat through. Stir in reserved spaghetti squash and broccoli, gently toss t combine well.
  6. Divide the mixture between the prepared baking dishes and sprinkle each with ¼ cup cheddar cheese. Cover with foil. Label and freeze 1 casserole for up to one month.
  7. Bake the remaining casserole until bubbling, about 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until lightly browned along the edges, 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: To cook from frozen – Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Spoon off any liquid that has accumulated in the pan, if desired. Bake as directed in step 7.

Categories: Recipes

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Cheryl Mussatto

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia, found on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions.

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