Chicken, Spinach & Rice Casserole

I got the idea for this recipe when I realized I had a boat load of fresh spinach and 2 rotisserie chickens in my 2nd refrigerator from my mom. For the past 7 years I have been blessed to have my mom watch my kids once a week. Not only does she help us out with child care (thus saving money on pre-school) but 95% of the time she makes us dinner that night and brings up enough food where we literally don’t have to think about dinners for the entire week.  mom

Naturally I didn’t want this food to go to waste but there is only so much chicken & pesto or rotisserie chicken salad one can eat. A few months ago I bought some organic white rice. As you may know, I have been pulling back from calling how I eat “paleo.” I would rather just say I eat a nutrient dense whole/unprocessed diet. (Remember this is the appropriate use of the word diet.) I don’t love that the way I eat has to have a name, but I understand that to some, how my family chooses to eat is viewed differently. I still get comments like “it must be really hard to go out to eat with you.” A colleague said this to me on the last day of school as we were eating our catered breakfast together. I sat there with my plate filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and fruit. But because I turned up the pastry tray that was passed around I had to endure comments. Sorry but I would rather eat a plate of bacon & eggs than a Danish from the closet bulk store. 

Rice is naturally gluten-free and my kids not only tolerate it well, but they love it. We maybe have it once every 7-10 days as a treat. Yes, I said rice is a treat in my house. Not a treat as in my Reeseio bars or some ice cream cake, but a treat meaning it’s nutritionally unnecessary. Rice is a filler; a tasty filler, but nonetheless a filler. The problem with rice is that because it’s a filler it tends to displace other more nutrient dense food. The bottom line is that when I serve my kids rice I am not serving them sweet or white potatoes or any type of winter squash; all of which a far superior to rice from a nutritional standpoint.

I buy white rice because as I said, rice in general (white or brown) is not a nutritional powerhouse. But also because brown rice still has the bran and germ (hull) intact, it is harder for some to digest which means it can damage the lining of the gut and lead to leaky gut syndrome. Brown rice also has a high concentration of anti-nutrients which are located in the bran and germ. (In white rice those are removed.)

White rice is a dense source of starchy carbs which my thin & active kids can use, especially in the summer. White rice, like other grains, can be a vehicle for other nutrient-dense foods. You’ll see in the recipe I cook the rice in homemade bone broth. According to the Whole30 website:

Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)

I’m not going to lie; the rice cooked in the bone broth was delicious! It was so good that I purposely didn’t use it all in the recipe so I could have some after my workout for the next day. I hope you like it as much as we did.

Chicken, Spinach & Rice Casserole
Serves 6
An easy recipe that uses leftovers to create a delicious & healthy all-in-one meal that the whole family will enjoy.
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Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
For the rice
  1. 2 cups rice
  2. 4 cups bone broth/stock
  3. ¼- ½ tsp salt (less if stock is store-bought)
  4. ½ tsp pepper
  5. ¼ tsp garlic powder
For the Casserole
  1. 4 chicken breasts cooked and diced. (I used rotisserie chicken)
  2. 16 oz. fresh spinach
  3. 2 medium sized onions
  4. 4 tbsp butter
  5. 1 tsp minced garlic
  6. 1-2 cups bone broth/stock
Cook the rice
  1. Place stock in a sauce pan and add spices; bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add rice & cover.
  3. Simmer 25 minutes or until all liquid had disappeared.
  4. While the rice is cooking, quarter the onions and place in a food processor. Grind to desired consistency. (My kids will eat onions if they can’t see them so I grind them very fine.)
  5. Melt butter in a skillet set to medium; add onions & garlic.
  6. Place spinach in food processor and pulse until spinach is finely chopped.
  7. Add spinach to skillet and cook until soft.
  8. In a large bowl combine rice, spinach mix, and chicken; mix thoroughly.
  9. Slowly add 1-2 cups of stock until mixture reaches desired consistency. You don’t want it to dry out in the oven so be generous. I used about 1.5 cups.
  10. Transfer mixture to a greased casserole pan and bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 375° F.
Notes
  1. Can be made ahead and frozen. Do not cook; cover with a freezer safe top and it should last 6-9 months in a deep freezer.
Fit Moms & Full Plates http://www.fitmomsfullplates.com/
Yours in Health,

pamsignature

 

 

Sources:

http://ancestral-nutrition.com/why-white-rice-is-healthier-than-brown-rice/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-rice-unhealthy/

http://whole9life.com/2013/12/whole9-bone-broth-faq/

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    That is how we handle rice, too! The kids know it’s an accent which functions to enhance the delivery of other foods! We eat it about once a week, although sometimes I do do the brown rice. We alternate because I haven’t completely made up my mind on this. Some really successful gut healing programs incorporate brown rice and others remove it. So I’m on the fence for now, since I could see how it could help the bacteria have something to “chew on” and make beneficial byproducts for us. On the other hand, the anti-nutrients and gut irritation could be problematic…I love the photo of you and your mom. She sounds like she’s the best!…Thank you for the recipe. I will try this sometime and come back to comment.
    Terri recently posted…HobosMy Profile

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