Healthy Pizza Rice Casserole

Pizza Rice Casserole

This is a delicious and nutritious casserole that is a favorite with kids

Brown rice, which has only the outer hull removed, retains–along with its bran layer–an impressive variety of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and even some vitamin E. Brown rice contains only a small amount of protein, but it is of good quality because of its relatively high level of the amino acid lysine. Because the bran is not milled away, brown rice contains four times the amount of insoluble fiber found in white rice.

Beef is an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. The cheese contributes calcium and protein.

The tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce are one of the best sources of lycopene, a carotenoid with cancer and heart disease fighting properties.

Onions are low in calories and are a rich source of a number of phytonutrients. They contain allyl sulfides (sulfur compounds that may lower blood pressure and discourage tumor growth), quercetin (a flavonoid with high antioxidant activity), and saponins (substances connected with cholesterol-lowering and tumor inhibition).

5 cups cooked long grain brown rice (About 2 cups raw)

Do not use white rice or the recipe will not work

1-pound extra-lean ground beef – optional or you can use ground turkey breast

1 onion, chopped (optional)

1 Jar (3 cups) prepared spaghetti sauce with <3 grams of fat per ½ cup

1 carton (16 oz) 2% or less fat cottage cheese

16 oz (4 cups) grated part-skim mozzarella or other cheese with <6 gm of fat per ounce

Cook brown rice 10-15 minutes less than package directions.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef and optional onion in a large skillet. Drain any fat. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

When rice is done, in a large bowl, mix together 5 cups cooked brown rice with the cottage cheese.

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Spread 1/2 of the rice-cottage cheese mixture, then 1/2 ground beef-sauce mixture. Continue alternating layers ending with the ground beef-sauce. Top with grated cheese. Cover loosely with foil. Be careful as the foil will stick to the cheese as it bakes.

Bake for 45 minutes until bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.         Serves 10.

Share Button

Make Ahead Mediterranean Chicken

Make Ahead Mediterranean Chicken

This recipe will dazzle you with flavor!

Make these in the morning and put in the oven at night for an easy dinner! This would also make a great make-ahead dinner party entrée. Serve with a beautiful salad and some warm bread. Perhaps Caprese Skewers and Oven Baked Shrimp or Make Ahead Shrimp as appetizers? Or for a midweek dinner, I like to make whole wheat couscous, push over the Mediterranean chicken and serve some next to it.

I like to prep the marinade and the vegetables the day before when I’m preparing other items. Then, the morning that I want to cook this recipe, I chop the chicken and put the vegetables and marinade in individual casserole dishes, cover with foil, refrigerate and bake later in the day.

This recipe can also be cooked over a barbecue or over a campfire. For Foil Pack Recipe for Camping, RV or Boat Recipe go here.

This marinade is one of my favorites. It has so much flavor and is versatile. I use it to flavor roasted vegetables and cook the most delectable shrimp skewers in. In fact, go ahead and double the marinade when you are making it for the chicken. Save some and use it on the roasted vegetables or shrimp skewers later in the week.

If you do not already have a microplaner I highly recommend that you get one. I took a cooking class taught by an Italian Grandma who told me it was her favorite kitchen tool. I bought one and now its my “favorite can not do without tool”! Here is an Amazon Choice Microplaner for zesting citrus and grating cheese.

You will also want to buy some sundried tomatoes. I like the ones that are not packed in oil. Trader Joe’s has them but you can also buy them on Amazon. I always keep these on hand. They are a healthy flavor booster! You can use them in risotto, scrambled eggs, salads, pastas, pizza.

Serves 4

  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry with a paper towel and cut into large bite sized pieces (6-8 ounces each)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Red Peppers in a jar, chopped. If you don not have these you can roast a red pepper on the grill or broil it until tender, cool it then remove the charred skin.
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved, or a combo of any olives you like
  • 1 cup jarred quartered artichoke hearts I use Costco’s
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil) I like Trader Joe’s and have linked to them on Amazon)


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley (if you don’t have this don’t worry, it will still be good without)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake, or more for spicier

Serve with whole wheat couscous.

Combine the chicken, red peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and 1/3 cup of the marinade in a large bowl. Stir well to combine.

Turn on the oven on to 350 F.

Evenly distribute the chicken vegetable mixture between 4 oven proof dishes. Cover tightly with foil.

Put the dishes into the oven and bake 28-30 minutes until the chicken measures 163°F. Do not, I repeat, do not overbake or the chicken will be tough. 🙂

If you end up making Mediterranean Chicken I want to see your results ❤

Make sure to snap a pic and share it with me on Instagram by tagging @MariaFairesRD_Personal Trainer and using #MariaFaires

Share Button

Make Ahead Teriyaki Chicken Bowls

I love doing meal prep at my house. Its’ a great way to eat healthier and make sure there is food ready when my schedule is busy.  These make-ahead bowls are so delicious and easy to make!

And this recipe can be made over and over again using different variations. Try using shrimp or tofu instead of chicken, adapting the sauté time of course. Or use a different type of rice, whole grain or cauliflower rice. Try a different vegetable: broccoli, asparagus would be nice with this. Let me know what you come up with!

And if you don’t want to make homemade teriyaki sauce, buy Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce.

Prep and store the meal in these glass meal prep containers, and you have a convenient lunch to take to work or pull out the refrigerator and reheat for a quick meal.

Easy Teriyaki Sauce

4 Tbsp chicken stock

6 Tbsp Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce

¼ cup honey

2 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp Red pepper flakes (this gives a mild spice, adjust according to what you like)

3 tsp cornstarch


1 cup uncooked rice (I like Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley or you can use brown rice or any other grain that you like, for instance, barley, farro, whole wheat couscous, or you could even use cauliflower rice)

Olive oil (2 Tbsp total, divided)

1 pound washed snap peas

3 large chicken breasts cut into pieces

Salt and pepper


Place all ingredients for the sauce into a jar, shake and set aside.

Cook the rice according to package instructions and divide among 4 or 5 microwavable bowls or containers.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan. Add the snap peas and sauté on medium heat, stirring occasionally until cooked tender crisp. Divide among the 5 bowls.

Heat the other 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the pan (or a separate pan and do this step while snap peas are cooking) and add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes until chicken temperature reaches 150. Do not overcook or the chicken will be dry. I recommend using a digital thermometer.

Shake the sauce in the jar to combine ingredients well then pour into pan with chicken. Turn heat up to medium high and stir constantly for 2 minutes until sauce is thickened and chicken temp is 165. Divide the chicken and sauce among the 5 bowls.

Cover, and refrigerate until ready to eat. Then microwave to reheat. Enjoy!

Share Button