Casseroles are a beloved meal for families. You can make them quickly with just a few dishes, and then you can reheat them easily so they provide tasty meals for several days. The result is less time cooking—and more time with your family.
Unfortunately, many casseroles lack healthy ingredients. Some have no veggies, many use red meat, some use processed meats like bacon or sausage, and others use processed ingredients like Ritz crackers or frozen tater tots.
You can still enjoy casseroles, even if you want to eat a healthier diet. There are many ways to make a healthier casserole, such as the following:
Veggies (especially fresh veggies) have a lot of fiber and other vitamins. Fiber is important for people with diabetes—and everyone, to be honest—because it slows down digestion and helps to control blood sugar levels. Use non-starchy veggies to keep your carb count on the lower side.
This recipe for chicken and bean casserole uses green beans. These are non-starchy veggies, are rich in fiber, and are a good source vitamin C. For the most health benefits, use fresh green beans (instead of canned). This can help control the amount of sodium—and improve the texture and flavor.
Choose lean protein.
Many casseroles use red meat, especially ground beef, but red meat is high in saturated fat. People with diabetes have an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases, and a diet high in saturated fat can exasperate that risk. Healthier protein options for a diabetes diet include beans, seafood, and chicken breast.
This recipe uses chicken breast and black beans. Chicken breast is low in saturated fat (compared to red meat), and black beans are rich in fiber.
Avoid processed meats.
Bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and chorizo add a bunch of flavor, but they also add a lot of sodium. A diet high in sodium is another risk factor for heart diseases. Instead of processed meats, add flavor with spices, herbs, and aromatics (like garlic and onion).
The best part? You can adjust this recipe to your preferences. Love spicy food? Add more jalapeño. Not a fan of black beans? Use pinto beans or peas. Hate green beans? Make the casserole with sliced bell pepper. Whatever your preferences, this casserole can work for you.