[Paleo] Creamy Chicken Casserole

Paleo Update:  After completing a 31 day Paleo challenge, Jon and I are slowly working to make the transition from 100% Paleo to 80% Paleo.  It’s only been a week and we’re still trying to settle into a manageable Paleo-friendly lifestyle.

  • Here’s our logic: We’ve decided that our 100% Paleo months (Jan, May, Aug/Sep) will be our hardcore-supercharged-weight-loss focused months.  Then, during our “off” months, we’ll be more lenient and work to maintain our weight and workout routines with a decreased focus on weight loss.  For example, during a Paleo month my goal would be to lose roughly 5lbs but during an off month, my goal may only be to lose 2lbs.  Basically this is how we plan to keep ourselves sane and not become binge eaters.
  • Even though January is over, we have decided to keep tracking our calories with the My Fitness Pal app.  It keeps us honest about what we’re eating and helps with portion control.  I highly recommend this app to anyone looking to lose weight.
  • Within the first week of February, my weight has fluctuated wildly from day to day.  From one day to the next I may lose 1lb, gain 1.5, lose 1, gain 2, etc.  However, even with all of the little treats and cheats lately, I’ve only gained 1lb since January 31st and I’m completely okay with that.  I just thought it was interesting to note the highly variable weight compared to our stable January diet.  I attribute this difference to sugar, salt, and carb bloating.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

POP QUIZ:  What’s creamy, low-cal, low-carb, and for dinner this weekend?  If you answered a Paleo-friendly creamy chicken casserole then you’re brilliant (or you’ve hacked my computer and you’ve already read this post!).

Sometimes you just want comfort food but without all of the calories, heavy ingredients, and guilt, right?  Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. 😉

I was inspired to make this casserole after seeing this Creamy Chicken & Leek Casserole by M Equals 1 and this Gluten-Free Veggie Bake by fitsugar.  I pretty much thought to myself, “Combine them!!” – so that’s what I did.

This casserole has a layer of spaghetti squash in the bottom (in place of pasta) and is then topped with a sautéed mixture of chicken and veggies that’s been simmered in a smooth coconut milk mixture.  The coconut milk is the secret ingredient – that’s where the creaminess comes from and it’s so much better for you than heavy cream.

I apologize for the pictures in this post – They were taken at night in a yellow-lit kitchen. 😦  The pictures do not do the flavors of this dish justice.  Trust me, Jon and I loved this!

Let’s get cooking!

First things first, we need to get that spaghetti squash in the oven and roasting since it’ll take about 45 minutes.  If you’re not familiar with roasting spaghetti squash and then striping it into “spaghetti” noodles, check out my tutorial here.

Spaghetti Squash_Shredded

While the spaghetti squash is in the oven, slice up your onion and add it to a large frying pan.  Cook the onion over medium heat for a few minutes until it begins to soften.  At this point, add your cubed chicken.

Paleo-Creamy-Chicken-Casserole_Chicken-&-Onion

Cook the chicken for roughly 5-7 minutes, or until it’s just about cooked through.  Then, add your broccoli florets and sliced mushrooms (or whatever other veggies you choose) and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Paleo-Creamy-Chicken-Casserole_Veggies

Time to increase the heat to medium-high and pour in your coconut milk.  Let the mixture come to a boil for 5 minutes to help the sauce thicken.

Paleo-Creamy-Chicken-Casserole_Coconut-Milk

When your spaghetti squash is done cooking, take a fork and shred the flesh into spaghetti strands.  Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ cake pan and spread the spaghetti squash on the bottom.

Paleo-Creamy-Chicken-Casserole_Spaghetti-Squash

Pour the mixture from your frying pan on top of the spaghetti squash and bake for 20 minutes.  If you’re not following a strict Paleo diet, go ahead and throw some shredded cheese on top before you bake it!

Paleo-Creamy-Chicken-Casserole_Prebake

Once it’s done cooking, remove from the oven and let cool slightly (5-10 minutes) then slice and serve.

Tip:  My casserole didn’t hold its shape as well as I expected it to.  When I scooped it out of the pan, it kind of just came out as a scoop, not a nice neat square – still tasted great though!

Paleo-Creamy-Chicken-Casserole_1

[Paleo] Creamy Chicken Casserole

Inspired by Creamy Chicken & Leek Casserole and Gluten-Free Veggie Bake

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1.5lbs raw chicken breasts, cut into bite size cubes
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 spaghetti squash, roasted and shredded
  • 14oz can of full-fat coconut milk

What to Do

  1. Roast and shred spaghetti squash. (Click here for detailed instructions)
  2. While your spaghetti squash is roasting, slice up your onion and add it to a large frying pan.  Cook the onion over medium heat for a few minutes until it begins to soften.
  3. Add your cubed chicken and cook for roughly 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is just about cooked through.
  4. Add your broccoli florets and sliced mushrooms (or whatever other veggies you choose) and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in your coconut milk.  Let the mixture come to a boil for 5 minutes to help the sauce thicken.
  6. When your spaghetti squash is done cooking, take a fork and shred the flesh into spaghetti strands.  Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ cake pan and spread the spaghetti squash on the bottom.
  7. Pour the mixture from your frying pan on top of the spaghetti squash and bake for 20 minutes.  (If you’re not following a strict Paleo diet, go ahead and throw some shredded cheese on top before you bake it!)
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly (5-10 minutes) then slice and serve.

You May Also Like:

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “[Paleo] Creamy Chicken Casserole

  1. YUM! I want to live at your house. And that’s such a smart strategy–you and Jon are so organized and on top of things! I would definitely go insane if I was constantly trying to lose weight all year–periods of maintenance are so necessary! And congrats on only gaining 1 lb–water weight I’m sure 😉

    • Haha, if you lived at our place, I think we would CONSTANTLY be in the kitchen… whipping up the most delicious and amazing things of course. 😉 Thanks again for your Paleo encouragement. It’s nice to have these “off-months” where I can (carefully) indulge in my sugar cravings! Hope your detox is still going well – I think it’s over soon? I bet you’re soooo excited for some pancakes!

    • Yes! Before starting my Paleo challenge, I would’ve never used “Paleo” and “comfort food” in the same sentence but I’m glad to learn that it’s possible!

  2. Leah, your plate looks perfect and delicious! And great, you have only gained 1lbs. , it’s great that you and Jon are doing this, I wish I could have your discipline when it comes to food!

    • Thanks, Ingrid. This is a really unique dish – I feel like the coconut milk gives it a tropical flare. 🙂 Thanks for your Paleo encouragement – trust me, I’m not super disciplined but I’m trying really hard to make lifestyle changes!

    • Thank you, Christine! Spaghetti squash has definitely been a brand new veggie to me since going Paleo but I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to incorporate it into my diet. It really is such a great low-carb alternative! Granted, it really needs sauce or seasonings to give it some flavor but that just makes it the perfect vehicle for so many different dishes!

  3. This looks really good and a great healthy alternative to the usual calorie-laden creamy casseroles. I love that you are still keeping up part of your Paleo lifestyle, it’s great to know that it worked out so well for you!

    • Thank you! I love using coconut milk in place of milk, butter or heavy cream – it makes it so much richer and gives the dish a fun tropical flavor. Thanks for the Paleo encouragement – It’s a challenge every day but I’m just trying to stick with small lifestyle changes.

  4. Now this is the kind of meal I can dig into any day! I love using spaghetti squash for pasta. I’ve actually never cooked with coconut milk as I’m not a huge fan but I think I should at least give it a try! I’m glad your weight is no longer fluctuating! That’s a good place to be 😉

    • Thanks, Min! I honestly wasn’t a big coconut milk fan when I started Paleo but now I love it and have used it in a bunch of different recipes. I don’t want to lie to you – you can definitely taste the coconut in this casserole. If you’re nervous about the flavor, you could try substituting almond milk. If you do, let me know how that works out!

  5. I never knew how delicious spaghetti squash was until last year when I tried it for the first time. This dish sounds so hearty and comforting. Who needs carbs? (ok, I need carbs…I spoke too soon 😉 Looks delicious, Leah.

    • It took me 25 years to try spaghetti squash so don’t feel bad! Now that I have, I’m definitely going to keep incorporating it into my diet as it’s the perfect low-carb alternative to pasta. I could never cut out carbs, like pasta, either but at least I can minimize them!

  6. Leah, I applaud you with this! You are really doing wonderful! Your creamy chicken casserole looks delicious. I love that you used coconut milk and spaghetti squash. So different and yet so good 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Judy! You always have such kind words and I always appreciate them! These flavors and ingredients are definitely different and I love that about this dish. It really elevates an average weeknight meal!

  7. Pingback: Creamy Scalloped Chicken and Vegetables | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen

    • Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean – sometimes cream sauces (especially alfredo leaves me feeling sick). Coconut milk is the perfect substititution (if you like a slight coconut flavor) – Paleo comfort food at its finest! 😉

  8. Pingback: Creamy Scalloped Chicken and Vegetables | Can't Stay Out Of The KitchenCan't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: