Pasta-Free Casserole Dishes– A Busy, Health Conscious Mom’s Best Friend

Cauliflower is my new best friend in the kitchen says the entrepreneurial wifeAs a working mom and wife, I am constantly working on improving my 5 o’clock scramble to make dinner, while maintaining healthy meals for my family. After I finally started enjoying the benefits of casseroles, single-pan dinners, freezer meals, and crock-pots, I then this year decided to cut out refined grain from our diet. That threw everything for a loop! Part of what makes single-pan meals and casseroles so quick and hearty is that pasta is mixed in to bulk it up, right?

But between my husband’s more noticeable wheat allergy and my growing wheat intolerance (tummy aches, fatigue, depression), this is something, I’d have to master, and make it good so that my family didn’t backlash. Not to mention–I’d like to lose those last 10-pounds from my recent pregnancy!

Then I discovered my two now favorite Pasta-replacements that are now staples in my kitchen for my casseroles: Cauliflower and Spaghetti Squash.

I use spaghetti squash in great mealsI’ve tweaked three favorite dishes of mine to now include cauliflower or spaghetti squash and taste AS EQUALLY delicious so that my hubby and kids love it! 🙂

1. Pasta-less Beef Stroganoff my husband’s childhood favorite dish. He doesn’t even miss the pasta and neither of us get that bloated or tired feeling after eating a big bowl. And better yet, on those real busy nights, if I don’t have time to whip up a side-salad, I don’t have to feel guilty because the dish is already filled with cauliflower, mushrooms, and onions. 🙂 Any veggie side-dish is just an added bonus. I’ve this meal up to another blog, where I give a detailed recipe of how I make it so that cauliflower base works well.

2. Alfredo Chicken Pasta-less Casserole with Mushrooms and Broccoli-As you can see, we are big mushroom fans. Our kids are not, but they are allowed to pick them out, or I try and pick them out before I give them their dish so they don’t waste them. We don’t mind: more for us. Sometimes, I’ll still add garlic bread on the side for my kids so they can enjoy the delicious combination, but because they didn’t already have loads of pasta to go with it, I don’t have to worry about all that sugar in their blood from the simple carbs of the pasta. Salad is also a great addition to this dish, but on super busy nights, no longer necessary.

3. Mexican Spaghetti Squash Casserole–If you like chili, you will definitely love this dish. It is one of my absolute favorites and super easy to make if you are willing to use a microwave to cook the spaghetti squash. If you’d rather use the oven, it will take more prep time, but can still be easy on those busy nights if you cook the spaghetti squash the night before. Best yet, it is PACKED with all sorts of veggies!

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Pasta-less Chicken Alfredo with Cauliflower

Using Cauliflower Rice instead of Pasta is a Delicious and Healthy ChoiceOne of my most favorite Italian dishes is Chicken Alfredo. Every time I go to an Italian restaurant, it is one of the dishes I consider ordering. My favorite way to have is it with penne, mushrooms, and add broccoli to the mix too. Add a yummy salad and some bread sticks and I am in heaven. But between the dairy and the wheat, I’m left feeling pretty tired and bloated an hour or so afterward. So I’d limit my Chicken Alfredo treat to once a month. Once a month, I’d endure the discomfort to allow my taste buds the pleasure of biting into that tender chicken and cheesy creamy sauce over my favorite pasta.

Then 2015 rolled around and my hubby and I were feeling very motivated to make those necessary dietary changes in our lives. We wanted to lose weight; we wanted more energy; and we wanted to be free of allergies and intolerance. So we decided to go wheat free. We try to lean toward paleo for the most part which makes it easy, but we are not hardcore. We will still do potatoes from time to time and still enjoy some rice here and there as well or some quinoa crackers.

mushrooms are absolutely necessary for any delicious meal. Especially Chicken Alfredo. But one of the big paleo trends is to use cauliflower instead of pasta in certain dishes. When I heard of this, I decided to experiment a bit with my beloved Chicken Alfredo. What I created ended up being AMAZING. And I can honestly tell you that this pasta-loving gal does not even miss pasta in this dish anymore. I didn’t eliminate the dairy, but getting rid of the wheat made it so much easier on my belly, both inside and out. 😉

For a quick but delicious recipe, just buy pre-made Alfredo sauce. Otherwise use your favorite Alfredo sauce recipe instead.

Ingredients Needed:
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 lb of chicken breast tenderloin
  • 10-15 whole white or crimini mushrooms
  • 10-15 broccoli florets
  • Alfredo Sauce (1 jar or 1.5 cups)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • spray olive oil
  • some garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan or Romano cheese
chicken alfredo is guilt free when served over cauliflower instead of pastaDirections:
  1. Bake or pan fry the chicken ahead of time in olive oil or avocado oil and some garlic salt and chop up into bite sized pieces.
  2. Wash and chop up the cauliflower into rice (I chop mine up real quick in my vitamix blender on low)
  3. Slice or dice your mushrooms
  4. Begin steaming the broccoli florets.
  5. While broccoli is steaming, Melt butter in a pan and saute the cauliflower and mushrooms together until both are soft and moist.
  6. Make or warm up the alfredo sauce.
  7. Pour sauce over cauliflower and mushroom mixture and then add in the steamed broccoli and chicken. Stir.
  8. Serve hot and sprinkle with parmesan or romano cheese.

Even better if served with a side salad.

Like this recipe? Read more from Theresa at her new blog http://mamaguts.com

Want more ideas for gluten free cooking? Check out these gluten free cookbooks! 🙂