Casseroles for the New Year
January 2, 2020 9:56 AM   Subscribe

So like everyone else, I am gearing up for 2020 with goals in mind. One thing I want to do is change up my boring eating routine. However, most casseroles, which I in a previous life absolutely loved, don't work, or I'm looking in all the wrong places. Requirements inside.

I have two goals: Un-bore my diet so that I will actually stick to my macros and stop relying on protein shakes to make up so much of the balance of my dietary needs. I get about 30 grams of protein from a shake each day, but supplement with egg whites to make up protein.

I'm a powerlifter and I am starting to train for a meet which will happen in May. I need to cut weight to get back to my weight class so I need to tighten up on my diet. My general plan in the past has been that I eat a really, really boring gym rat's diet of chicken or pork + rice + green veg. The practical result of this in the last 6-8 months has been that I cheat a LOT because I am bored out of my mind with it. I don't mind the gym rat food for lunch at work but sometimes for dinner I just want something more comforting, like a good casserole. However most of them are too carb heavy and low on protein. So basically I am looking for casserole recipes that aren't super crazy on the fat front while also being REASONABLE on the carb front. I can load them up with more protein to get the servings up to what I need.

My macro break down is 150g Protein, 120g Carbs, 50g Fat for about 1500 calories, which allows me to operate at a caloric deficit to get back to my competition weight. I am a small person, please do not @ me about my calories.
posted by Medieval Maven to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

Low-carb moussaka
Any kind of quiche, you can make it crustless
Baked cod is not really a casserole but it is delicious. You can add green beans in there.
Try stuffed veggies like these stuffed zucchini boats.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:10 AM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Well, here's one for all that leftover turkey (or chicken!). Chop leftover turkey into casserole dish, add chopped onion and broccoli or whatever alternate green veg you'd like. Top with a white sauce with cheese (melted butter in milk, with a touch of flour to thicken, plus grated cheddar/other cheese) or do as my mother always did, and just add your preferred cream of ___ soup can. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Et voilà! Low carb easy and delicious casserole.
posted by itsflyable at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's also nice of you like to add spices of your choice to it... Any hot sauce or chili flakes are great.
posted by itsflyable at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oops, forgot to mention parmesan. That's always a flavour enhancer to top off a cheesy casserole.
posted by itsflyable at 10:15 AM on January 2, 2020

This black bean enchilada bake is one of our favorites. With the quinoa and beans, it packs a good protein punch but you could add chicken or something to it, I'm sure.
posted by LKWorking at 10:37 AM on January 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

You can definitely use riced cauliflower as a quiche base IF you dry it super well and pre-bake it. I had a really delicious smoked salmon quiche with eggs and spinach and cheese on a riced cauliflower crust, and I have seen "pizza" quiches with this too. Riced cauliflower makes a lousy pizza crust but somehow it works as a quiche crust. Here's the recipe that was used:

In terms of casseroles, if you're willing to think more in terms of "baked pasta" as a casserole, there are a lot of low-carb veggie pastas that I think taste pretty bad as pasta but make a good pasta bake, including the TJ's red lentil sedanini and black bean rotini. Layer up with ground meat and tomato sauces and cheese and that's some comfort food right there. They also make a nice tuna noodle casserole if you're ok with making your own bechamel sauce. It can be done with milk rather than cream, I use this recipe:

If you like Indian food, there are a lot of really outstanding comfort foods that relatively low carb and low fat if you don't add naan and rice! Just look for ones that are not flavored with butter.
posted by juniperesque at 10:37 AM on January 2, 2020

Best answer: I love the Real Food RDs. They have a spaghetti pie made with spaghetti squash instead of pasta that clocks in at just over 200 calories per serving. You could add some cheese if it fits your macros. Recipe here.

There are a few other casseroles on their site, all with nutritional information. I cook a lot and have a similar daily calorie target, and their recipes hit a sweet spot between comforting and healthful for me.
posted by little mouth at 10:39 AM on January 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

There's lots of keto/low-carb (keto is the big buzzword now so it gets better search results), and the big modification you usually need to make is add some damn spices.

I meal prep, and I usually make one "tomato-ey lasagna-ish roasted vegetable thingy" because I'm bad at naming recipes. Sometimes a make a bolognese type meat sauce, sometimes a no-meat tomato sauce and use the casserole as a side for chicken* or homemade meatballs. The Thingy is generally layers of seasoned pre-roasted veg (always mushrooms and zucchini, guest stars might be spaghetti squash, eggplant, sweet peppers, green beans, sometimes I'll spring for a couple bags of frozen artichoke hearts or asparagus) glued together alternatingly with sauce + a dusting of mozzarella/ricotta or cottage cheese with a couple eggs beaten in to make it sticky. You've got some carb leeway to add in either regular or a legume-based pasta (tip: just soak it in hot water 15-20 minutes until soft, you don't have to pre-cook it), and that'll make the whole casserole stickier. 350 for 30ish minutes until bubbly, let cool completely before trying to portion so the egg and pasta can set up. Don't forget to use some good chili powders, crushed garlic, oregano etc in your roasting, and get some bright flavors like sumac or powdered lemon or balsamic vinegar into your sauce.

I do make a lot of cauliflower rice, a lot a lot, but it irritates me in casseroles; I prefer florets broken down fairly small and pre-steamed or roasted to dry them out some.

*Instant pot: saute a diced onion, add salt and garlic, add 1/3 cup water and bouillon if you want, up to 3lbs boneless skinless chicken leg quarters (or thighs if you can get quarters), cut into 3-4 pieces (halve thighs unless they're really big), tossed in seasonings and a dab of oil. You can add a package or two of sliced mushrooms or halved brussels sprouts on top of the chicken if you want. Seal and pressure on High 13 minutes, let it naturally release, stir all the components gently and turn off the heat, let stuff meld while it cools some. Now that it's done with extreme temperatures you can re-season, or add jar/pouch sauce or pesto, chuck in some cream cheese or sour cream or coconut cream if you need to up your fat, curry paste, lemon + capers to make piccata, you have infinite options here to keep from getting bored. Without a pressure cooker, you could do a similar stewed/braised chicken, but you'll have to work out the timing.

The chicken ("Saucy Chicken" in my house) is saucy enough to fancy up plain veg as well, I often make the curry or piccata type chicken to serve with plain steamer broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, etc. It streamlines my meal prep to not have to think real hard about the sides.

I make egg muffins (I love these jumbo muffin cups for size, maneuverability, and washability) for our breakfasts.

To improve my spice game, I gave myself the Christmas present of a ton of seasoning mixes from Penzey's. Their Florida Pepper, chili blends, garam masalas, and various Sunny [cityname] blends are improving my life a whole lot right now.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:48 AM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

posted by blueberrypuffin at 10:49 AM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I am obviously a riffer, but I get a lot of my base inspiration from Kalyn's Kitchen and ibreatheimhungry. They do a lot of casseroles, and looking at their recipes helps me figure out format and timing.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:51 AM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm doing low carb at present and I'm finding that a pan of decent sausages with enough sliced onion and red capsicum piled around their edges to stop them spattering as they fry on extreme heat, with a goodly helping of coarse ground black pepper over the whole lot, is both super simple to prepare and tasty enough to be worth looking forward to.
posted by flabdablet at 11:01 AM on January 2, 2020

Yeah, what if you add more high fat, flavorful protein (meat, dairy) and veggies in place of the rice? Add some butter to those veggies for more flavor and a feeling of being full. I'm not saying go full keto but maybe limiting the carbs will help you reduce your cravings, especially if you eat more protein. How much sugar are you eating? Sugar can make me eat more.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:10 PM on January 2, 2020

anything in the quiche family. You want to be using eggs as the binder instead of rice/potato etc. So crustless frittatas -- you can adjust the fat here by adding more or fewer egg yolks and cheese. Can do equally well with cauliflower, broccoli, chard... Sun dried tomatoes add a lot of flavor without a lot of carbs...

Also scrambles, the original actually-delicious low carb food. Pan fry some onion, peppers... optional spinach, herbs, sausage (or just a little bit of bacon for flavor), cheese, olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic... then pour in some beaten eggs, proportion of whites:yolks determined by you. Super fast and comforting, the only time it takes is chopping and cleaning up one pan. For crunch, eat w wasa crackers and/or a side of raw peppers.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:55 PM on January 2, 2020

Have you had bobotie before? It's a high protein flavorsome totally comfort food entree, baked in a casserole dish. Fat level mostly depends on the type of minced meat you choose to use, so you should be able to dial that up or down and tweak the fruit content to get the carbs where you want them.
posted by mumkin at 3:31 PM on January 2, 2020

I'm a very lazy cook, so here's an easy casserole ish thing:

Trader Joe's sells these mini chicken breast things, I forget what they're called, but they give you small pieces of chicken so you avoid the need to cut them. Roll those in a mix of salt, cumin, pepper, and red pepper (or whatever you like).

Chop up some tomatoes, or even easier, open a can of chopped tomatoes. Chop up some peppers and / or onions.

In a baking dish, layer tomatoes, chicken, peppers, tomatoes, chicken, peppers. Maybe you could include cheese, but I don't eat cheese so I don't know. It might be too runny. You could include basil or cilantro or spinach if you like. Bake at 325-350 until the chicken is done. I bake it with the lid on.

This basically gives you a thick stew of chicken and peppers. It's not a high-precision product that holds together like a quiche or lasagna. But it can be made really quickly, is hearty and warming, is high in protein and lower in fat and carbs, and tastes good.
posted by salvia at 11:21 PM on January 2, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. The thing that gets closest to what I was looking for is the Real Food RDs link above -- you can choose Whole 30, Paleo, etc -- and the Whole 30 or Classic recipes there are hitting what I think of as reasonable targets for fat and carbs.

Offline, someone suggested to me the Performance Paleo cookbook which may or may not be full of casseroles but is supposed to be a version of paleo for those of us that need carbs to hit performance targets.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:16 AM on January 3, 2020

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