Creamy Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Mushrooms

Creamy Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Mushrooms - a frugal, lovely comfort food that's full of nourishing ingredients too! -- The Nourishing Gourmet
This casserole’s aroma and visual appeal had my kids ogling: first the smell of the easy roux cooking (think browned butter and cream!), then the grating of the Gruyere, the toasty smell of quinoa bubbling in bone broth, and, of course, the redolence of sauteed mushrooms with garlic and herbs.
I first made this casserole when we were phasing off of a grain-free diet, to see how we’d do with quinoa. I soaked the gluten-free grain overnight, to reduce phytic acid and improve its digestibility. (That’s an easy step- just a little salt water overnight: instructions below.) We all loved it and pronounced it an instant creamy classic.
Although the recipe is topped with a roux (homemade cream sauce), I hope you’ll know this is one quick-to-assemble casserole that provides 8 big servings; so it’s great for guests or a weeknight meal. Melted cheese atop chicken and cozy, high protein quinoa (that cooks while it bakes!) provide a comfort food that’s fun to make and sure to please.
The main ingredients are all accessible at Trader Joe’s- an easy way to grab what you need for a plentiful dinner. (There are a few additional basic pantry or fridge ingredients you may already have on hand at home.) The ingredients aren’t all inexpensive, but they’re high quality and relatively affordable; (let’s face it: organic chicken isn’t cheap). When you buy a couple of the ingredients, the Gruyere cheese (or jack, for a milder flavor) and quinoa, you’ll be able to use leftovers of these ingredients another time as well; the recipe only uses half of what you’ll buy. Or perhaps you already buy quinoa in bulk?
The whole casserole costs about $18.25 to make. If you serve 8 people, each servings costs about $2.25.
Here’s the price breakdown if you purchase your ingredients from Trader Joe’s:
$4.58- 1 pound organic mushrooms
$1.75- 1 cup quinoa
$8.50- 1.75 pounds organic chicken thighs
$3.15- 1-1/4 cups grated Gruyere (or less for jack cheese)
$.25- 3 cloves organic garlic
The additional ingredients you’ll need are bone broth, a cup of cream or milk (we use raw cream), a teeny bit of white rice flour, butter, herbs, salt and pepper. The casserole is loaded with chicken; so if you want to save money, make a really big salad and give smaller portions of the casserole, or use less chicken, if you’re really stretched budget-wise. It’s the spendiest ingredient by far.
Enjoy!
Creamy Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Mushrooms
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-1/2 cups water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 cup organic, grass-fed cream (or raw cream or milk)
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1-3/4 cup bone broth or water
  • 1.5-1.75 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″/bite-size cubes/pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  •  1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or use jack for a milder flavor)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons animal fat, butter, or avocado oil (for sauteing)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence or mixed Italian herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium size bowl, soak the quinoa in the 1-1/2 cups water and apple cider vinegar overnight. When ready to assemble the casserole, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and set aside. It will cook in the oven.

Grease a large casserole dish (9″ by 13″ or similar) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the 1/4 cup rice flour and cook, whisking for 5 minutes, to cook the raw flavor out of the flour. (This part smells really good.) In a steady, thin stream, constantly whisk in the bone broth, then the cream, allowing the liquid to absorb the flour, as it becomes a creamy sauce. Simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, stirring, and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons preferred fat over high heat. Add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, stirring briefly. Cover for 2-3 minutes, to produce steam. Uncover and add herbs. Saute over medium-high heat for 8 minutes more. Set aside and allow to cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Add cubed chicken and stir to combine.

Place soaked, rinsed quinoa (uncooked) into greased casserole dish, spreading it out evenly. Top with chicken mushroom mixture, spreading it out over the quinoa. Add about 3/4 of the total grated cheese to the roux (cream sauce), stirring briefly to mix. Top chicken and mushrooms with cream sauce. Spread the sauce to within 1″ of the edges of the casserole. Pour the 1-3/4 cup bone broth or water in around the edges. Carefully transfer dish to oven and bake 45 minutes, until edges are bubbling rapidly and all water is absorbed.

Serve with an optional side of wilted greens or a green salad.

Creamy Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Mushrooms
 
Author:
Serves: 8-10 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-1/2 cups water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 cup organic, grass-fed cream (or raw cream)
  • ¼ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1-3/4 cup bone broth or water
  • 1.5-1.75 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1"/bite-size cubes/pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or use jack for a milder flavor)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons animal fat, butter, or avocado oil (for sauteing)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence or mixed Italian herbs
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium size bowl, soak the quinoa in the 1-1/2 cups water and apple cider vinegar overnight. When ready to assemble the casserole, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and set aside. It will cook in the oven.
  2. Grease a large casserole dish (9" by 13" or similar) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Place ¼ cup butter in small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the ¼ cup rice flour and cook, whisking for 5 minutes, to cook the raw flavor out of the flour. (This part smells really good.) In a steady, thin stream, constantly whisk in the bone broth, then the cream, allowing the liquid to absorb the flour, as it becomes a creamy sauce. Simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the ½ teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon white pepper, stirring, and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons preferred fat over high heat. Add mushrooms and ½ teaspoon sea salt, stirring briefly. Cover for 2-3 minutes, to produce steam. Uncover and add herbs. Saute over medium-high heat for 8 minutes more. Set aside and allow to cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Add cubed chicken and stir to combine.
  5. Place soaked, rinsed quinoa (uncooked) into greased casserole dish, spreading it out evenly. Top with chicken mushroom mixture, spreading it out over the quinoa. Add about ¾ of the total grated cheese to the roux (cream sauce), stirring briefly to mix. Top chicken and mushrooms with cream sauce. Spread the sauce to within 1" of the edges of the casserole. Pour the 1-3/4 cup bone broth or water in around the edges. Carefully transfer dish to oven and bake 45 minutes, until edges are bubbling rapidly and all water is absorbed.
  6. Serve with an optional side of wilted greens or a green salad.

Sweet & Spicy Candied Walnuts & Pecans

Sweet and Spicy Candied Walnuts and Pecans - A delicious DIY gift! They are great for snacking on, or for serving on green salads. Yum! --- The Nourishing Gourmet

Walnuts and pecans are coated with an unrefined sweetener (such as coconut sugar), spice, and salt, for a delicious combo of sweetness, saltiness, and spice.  They make a perfect gift!

Every December for the last few years I try to come up with a new holiday nut mixture to give as hostess gifts where ever we are visiting. It is one of the easiest things to do and a thoughtful gesture to parents, friends, and neighbors. They can be made up way ahead of time which I love too.

Speaking of DIY gifts, see other lovely and healthy DIY Christmas gifts here (Everything from Dairy-free Hot Cocoa Mix to Homemade Candies to a Healthy Ice Cream Basket), and see the other two posts for the 2015 12 Days of Christmas Series, Mint Chocolate Lip Balm, and Chai Eggnog.

I always end up going back to giving my candied nuts a bit of a spicy kick to them though! There is just something about that flavorful heat that goes so well with the sweet candied coating.

I actually do not have much of a palate for super spicy food but I do appreciate a flavorful heat from a smokey chipotle or a cayenne type of heat and these nuts have just the perfect amount of heat to me. If you prefer things really spicy you could definitely get away with almost doubling the heat in the recipe.

Soaking the nuts before they are prepared will help with digestion – it only takes a little bit of extra time and very little hands on time. (See also how I used this method to make salted soaked and dehydrated almonds).  If you are sensitive to eggs you can leave the egg white out. It does give the nuts a pretty candy like coating but they still come out really good without the whites and I do this with one of my batches every year for a family that we visit that has egg allergies.

By the way! Don’t throw that egg yolk out! Put it in a smoothie or use it for this delicious Caesar dressing! They are very nutrient-rich. (Katie shares great safety information on consuming raw eggs here. As always, consume at your own risk – as small as that risk may be.)

The nuts wrap up great in those little holiday party bags or look gorgeous in a little mason jar with ribbon.

If you don’t have one yet already, here is a (affiliate link) good dehydrator that is high quality and long lasting.

Sweet and Spicy Candied Walnuts

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 1 tablespoons sea salt for soaking
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup organic pure cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper if you like a smoky heat (more if you like more heat – you can do a combo of these to pepper powders too if you wish)

Directions: 

  1. Put the walnuts, pecans, and 1 TB of sea salt in a medium mixing bowl and add water to cover by a couple inches. Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen 8 hours – this soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the nuts making them easier to digest as well as making their nutrients more available to absorb.
  2. After the nuts soak, place the nuts in a strainer to drain the water while you put the egg white, sugar, sea salt, and cayenne pepper in the bowl and beat to combine.
  3. Return the drained nuts to the bowl of seasoned egg white and combine with a big spoon to coat the nuts in the seasoned mixture.
  4. Spread the coated nuts onto your dehydrator trays and dehydrate overnight at 150 degrees until crispy and dried out. If you are using an oven you can bake them around 300 degrees for a half hour stirring occasionally.

Sweet & Spicy Candied Walnuts & Pecans
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 1 TB sea salt for soaking
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup organic pure cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper if you like a smoky heat (more if you like more heat - you can do a combo of these to pepper powders too if you wish)
Instructions
  1. Put the walnuts, pecans, and 1 TB of sea salt in a medium mixing bowl and add water to cover by a couple inches. Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen 8 hours - this soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the nuts making them easier to digest as well as making their nutrients more available to absorb.
  2. After the nuts soak, place the nuts in a strainer to drain the water while you put the egg white, sugar, sea salt, and cayenne pepper in the bowl and beat to combine.
  3. Return the drained nuts to the bowl of seasoned egg white and combine with a big spoon to coat the nuts in the seasoned mixture.
  4. Spread the coated nuts onto your dehydrator trays and dehydrate overnight at 150 degrees until crispy and dried out. If you are using an oven you can bake them around 300 degrees for a half hour stirring occasionally.

 

Enjoying a Gluten-free or Grain-free Holiday Season

 

Enjoying the holiday season on a gluten or grain-free diet (resources and recipes!)

The first holiday season we were gluten-free was a big adjustment. So many family recipes and treats were off limits. But you know what? We’ve found that the holiday season can be a joy and a blessing with glorious food!

This week Megan from EatBeautiful.net and I shared about how we love the holidays, and holiday food – even though we eat differently. More then that, we found our holiday meals to be beautiful with real food!

Megan and her family have been on the GAPS diet, which is a healing, grain-free, starch-free diet. Half of my family is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free.

Maybe you can relate. We hope that this conversation is encouraging to you! We discuss not only recipes, but also some of the surrounding issues, like how to handle children on restricted diets during holiday get togethers, making desserts sweet enough to share with the general public, and more!

To get all of the links to recipes and resources: visit my holiday recipe page here.

How to Make Carrot Juice With a Blender

 

How to make carrot juice without a blender - easier than you think, and so helpful for those of us without juicers! -- The Nourishing GourmetBy Chloe, from How We Flourish

Here’s the thing: I have a very small kitchen. I’m also on a tight budget. I don’t have the option of having a kitchen filled with small appliances. However, I had heard a lot about the benefits of juicing. A morning carrot juice is also an important about of the GAPS Intro Diet, so I learned how to make carrot juice with a blender.

If you ask most people, they will tell you that you need a real juicer for juicing. To truly receive the benefits of juicing, commercial juice is not an option as it is pasteurized. Juices must be freshly pressed to preserve the enzymes and nutrients that makes vegetable juices so good for us. But not everyone can afford a big fancy masticating juicer! I’d love to have one, of course, as it is certainly less work than making juice with a blender. But when that is not an option, you do not need to worry. You can still get the benefits of juicing for a lot less money.

Why Juicing

I was never a fan of juice before GAPS. But I learned that juicing can help support detoxification, and the vitamins and minerals from the juiced vegetables can be quickly absorbed. It can be a great remedy for constipation! This might be TMI, but that is why I have taken such a liking to juicing. It helped for me very much, so it’s a tool I like to keep in my back pocket.

Interested? If you would like to test the benefits of juicing without the investment, read on to learn how to juice without a juicer.

How to Juice without a Juicer

The following tutorial is for 100% fresh carrot juice, which is the starting point for juicing on GAPS Intro. How many carrots you need will depend on how much juice you want – 2-3 carrots usually makes a decent sized glass for me. This method of making juice in a blender will also work for all types of juices!

  1. Wash and chop the carrots.
  2. Add them to the blender. Any type of blender should work fine.
  3. Add a small amount of filtered water. With more watery vegetables, you may not need any. If you like your juices more dilute, add more. For carrot juice, add enough water to come slightly less that halfway up the carrots. It just needs to be enough to help get things moving.
  4. Blend on medium until the ingredients are well pulverized.
  5. Place a nut milk bag in your desired cup/container and pour in the blended ingredients.
  6. Squeeze as much liquid out of the nut milk bag as possible. Save the leftover pulp in the freezer to be used in other recipes.
  7. Enjoy your juice! It is best to drink on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast.

Tip: If you enjoy the benefits of juicing, but find that it spikes your blood sugar, try adding fat and protein to your juice. One of my favorite ways to do this with with the so-called “GAPS Milkshake.”

Want to make a large batch? It is recommended to always drink juice fresh. However, I believe that if you are experiencing benefits with juicing, less-than-optimal juice may be better than no juice at all. Try freezing the juice immediately and thawing it in a water bath when you want it.

Are you interested in learning more about healing your gut with GAPS Intro? Learn more about how I did just that (without going crazy!) in my book Healing Patiently.

How to Make Carrot Juice With a Blender
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
 
Carrot juice is a delicious and nourishing drink. Learn how to make it fresh, even if you do not have a juicer!
Ingredients
  • 2-3 carrots
Instructions
  1. Wash and chop the carrots.
  2. Add them to the blender. Any type of blender should work fine.
  3. Add a small amount of filtered water. With more watery vegetables, you may not need any. If you like your juices more dilute, add more. For carrot juice, add enough water to come slightly less that halfway up the carrots. It just needs to be enough to help get things moving.
  4. Blend on medium until the ingredients are well pulverized.
  5. Place a nut milk bag in your desired cup/container and pour in the blended ingredients.
  6. Squeeze as much liquid out of the nut milk bag as possible. Save the leftover pulp in the freezer to be used in other recipes.
  7. Enjoy your juice! It is best to drink on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast.

 Do you juice? What is your favorite type of juice to make?