Or, at least, I assumed I wouldn’t be able to eat pasta. Or noodles. Or breads.
Because…that’s what happens when you eat “healthy,” right? No carbs are allowed?
Well, that’s what I thought, at least…
BUT then I started really learning about clean eating. I learned that it’s not about cutting carbs. It’s not about removing pasta. It’s not about taking and taking and taking until there’s no more joy in the food you’re eating.
This VERY much intrigued me and made me oh so happy.
Rather, I learned that clean eating is actually about choosing whole, real foods. It’s about finding nutritious, unprocessed foods that are good for you and removing all the stuff that isn’t.
In other words: it’s about finding ways to enjoy the foods you love, just in a healthier way.
So. How does this apply to this tasty, cheesy, satisfying healthy quinoa penne make ahead casserole you’re drooling over right here?
Well, I’ve got some good news for ya: this pasta is HEALTHY. Yep, I use quinoa penne noodles which are super tasty, full of fiber, and protein. They are also gluten-free, if you’re into that sorta thing. (If you’re wondering, the brand of pasta I use is Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Penne Pasta and it’s super tasty).
In other words, I found a way to enjoy pasta and still live this healthy lifestyle and you can, too. And it is tasty, let me tell ya.
I also LOVE make ahead foods that I can meal prep on the weekends when I have more time and then just reheat on those busy weeknights while I’m hanging with my kiddos.
Healthy Quinoa Make Ahead Casserole
If you’d like to learn more about clean eating, check out my free guide on how to start eating clean for beginners.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb lean ground beef 90/10
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 shallot minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 7 cremini mushrooms sliced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp kosher salt. divided
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 1 box quinoa penne noodles
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced or shredded
- parmesan cheese optional for garnish, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Fill a deep stock pot halfway with water and heat over high heat. Add 1 tsp. kosher salt and the noodles once boiling.
When al dente (almost tender), about 8-10 minutes, drain and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the ground beef to the oil. Break into crumbles and brown well. Once well-browned, remove the meat from the skillet and set aside in a bowl, reserving the drippings in the pan.
Return heat to medium-high. Add onion and shallot and cook until onion begins to sweat.
Add garlic, mushrooms, and tomatoes, and cook until onion and mushrooms are tender.
Return the ground beef to the skillet and stir to combine. Add the seasonings (oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper) and the tomato sauce and stir to combine. If too thick, add 1/4 cup water to loosen.
Once the mixture begins to simmer, add the drained noodles and mix well.
Pour the mixed meat sauce and noodles into a 9x16 casserole dish and cover with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese,
Place into the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
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