Friday, April 3, 2015

Healthy King Ranch Chicken Casserole ~The Kitchen Witch

On The Kitchen Witch Facebook page last week a friend asked if I could come up with a healthier version of King Ranch Chicken Casserole. This was a perfect request for me because I've been wanting to try this classic dish for awhile but it didn't fit with my plan for healthier eating.

The more I get into the development of what I call "conscious" recipes, however, the more I'm discovering that the only thing you lose when you cook consciously is calories, saturated fat, sodium, and the list goes on.

But I promise, with my recipes you will never lack flavor. And some of my easy substitutions not only up the flavor factor, they also up the nutritional value of the entire dish!

One such substitution in my King Ranch Chicken Casserole was to swap out the tortillas in the classic recipe and replace them with a Tex Mex Cauliflower Rice and Bean Medley. Not only does the cauliflower rice mixture provide a wonderful visual on your plate and gorgeous textural contrast, it is a low glycemic food which means it helps keep your blood sugar levels normal. It is also full of fiber, healthy nutrients, and is significantly lower in calories than tortillas or regular rice.

 The second change I made was to swap out the canned soup, cream, or butter that was listed in the many classic recipes I visited in favor of unsweetened Greek yogurt - and what an amazing change that was!

The Greek yogurt is a probiotic which along with the cauliflower, is amazing for intestinal health. It's also calcium rich and full of potassium which helps balance out the sodium in a dish. Best of all, though, the Greek yogurt provides a beautiful contrasting tanginess to the chicken cream sauce that takes this dish to whole new places!

Put it all together and you've got an updated, much healthier version of an old classic that you can serve your entire family - consciously knowing that you are giving them the best possible ingredients. People, if that isn't love, I don't know what is!

Don't believe me? Well check the nutritional comparison between my updated recipe and the original:

Traditional King Ranch Casserole                             My Recipe

277 calories per serving                                              131 calories per serving
16 grams fat                                                                  2.8 grams fat
7.8 grams saturated fat                                                 1.6 grams saturated fat
33 mg cholesterol                                                         7 mg cholesterol
687 mg sodium                                                             68 mg sodium

Get the printable version of this beautiful recipe here: Healthy King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Learn how to make this in my kitchen with today's step by step video.

  • 2 cup(s) of chicken tenders (one small package) cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning spice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 tbsp of finely diced jalapeno peppers
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup(s) of canned stewed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup(s) of Salsa
  • 1/2 tsp. of cumin
  • 1/2 cup(s) unsweetened Greek Yogurt (at room temp)
  • 2 cups grated cauliflower florets
  • 1 tin niblets corn
  • 1 cup black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup crushed taco chips
  1. Saute the grated cauliflower in an un-greased non stick pan for 5 minutes over medium high until just beginning to go toasty and golden.
  2. Add the black beans, corn, cilantro, green onion, and fresh lime juice. Set aside. 
  3. Sprinkle the chicken tenders with creole spice and saute with the onion, red pepper and jalapeno pepper in a non stick pan treated lightly with oil over medium high heat. When the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft and translucent, add the minced garlic and saute another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes, salsa, cumin, and continue to stir. Cover and remove from the heat. Let rest 10 minutes.
  5. Add a little sauce at a time to the yogurt, stirring well in order to temper it. Gently stir the tempered yogurt into the chicken and tomatoes.
  6. Gradually re-heat the chicken and sauce and re-heat the "rice" so that both are nice and hot. 
  7. Place the cauliflower rice mixture in a 9x13 casserole treated lightly with cooking spray or oil. Cover with the chicken mixture.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and the taco chips. Place under a preheated broiler until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly.
  9. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.  


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