A blog by runners. For runners.

Healthy Turkey Divan

The Kitchen Vixen is our weekly recipe contributor. This week she offers a delicious and healthy turkey casserole recipe! When most of us think of casseroles, we likely think of a high fat dish that contributes to our weight gain around the holidays. The Kitchen Vixen created a healthy casserole with quinoa, turkey and broccoli that you don't have to feel guilty about!

Who doesn't love a good comforting casserole? Casseroles are a great way to combine many healthful ingredients into one savory dish. But casseroles are often unhealthy because they are typically loaded with high fat ingredients. Chicken is usually the main ingredient for a divan, which is often layered with processed pasta. I've taken this traditional comforting casserole and turned it into a healthful, divine dish. Made with turkey and quinoa, these two main ingredients give this a meal a nutritional boost.

When compared with chicken, ounce for ounce, turkey is better because it's lower in fat, and higher in essential minerals such as iron, selenium and zinc, minerals which are difficult to get in the diet but which play huge roles in the body. Iron helps get oxygen rich blood to working muscles, while zinc is a component of every single chemical reaction in the body. It's particularly important for testosterone production. And selenium is an essential part of your body's own antioxidant defense system. Selenium actually helps to regenerate vitamin E to further protect your body's cells from potential invaders.

Whether you choose turkey or chicken, always look for free-range because these animals live in a more humane environment and are given the opportunity to live off their natural diet of grasses and bugs which actually makes them even richer in minerals and in omega-3 fats.

3 oz chicken breast contains 128 calories, 2 1/2 grams of fat, 6% riboflavin, 60% niacin, 14% B6, 4% iron, 5% magnesium, 5% potassium, 27% selenium, 5% zinc.
When comparing quinoa to another nutritious grain such as brown rice, quinoa offers slightly greater health benefits. For about the same calories, quinoa has 4g of protein whereas brown rice has 2.5g. Both grains provide about 2g of fiber. Both are rich in manganese, a mineral that's essential for your body's own antioxidant defense system, and both grains are good sources of most of your B vitamins which are needed for energy metabolism; helping your body convert food into useable energy. Quinoa is significantly higher in copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium, while brown rice is much higher in selenium.
When comparing the protein profile of these two super grains, quinoa is the only grain that can boast being a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids in the perfect proportion to promote growth, development and repair of working muscles. Brown rice, like other grains, falls short on its supply of the essential amino acid lysine. However, when you eat other complete proteins throughout the day, they provide ample lysine to negate brown rice's short comings. This is also true if you eat beans, lentils or other legumes which provide lysine, but are incomplete proteins because they are lacking in methionine/cysteine. Legumes become complete when you complement them with whole grains. Each food makes up for what the other is lacking. Brown rice is also rich in silicon, a nutrient that has been shown to aid in bone formation.
With all this in mind, know that you can make this casserole with turkey or chicken and with quinoa or brown rice, and your end product will still be one that is tasty, comforting and nutrient dense while giving you optimal fuel for your walk, jog or run!


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 large shallots, sliced into 1-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry or brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs frozen broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Rinse the turkey breast under cool running water. Place between two pieces of parchment paper and flatten with a mallet or with the back of a skillet, until it's about 1-inch thick. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Place the turkey breast in the bowl and coat with the spices. Add more cumin & pepper if needed, to cover the turkey breast liberally.
  2. WHeat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the turkey breast and sear on each side, about 1 minute per side to brown. Add enough water to the skillet to cover the turkey about half way. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover with a lid and let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until there is no pink at the thickest part of the breast. Flip the turkey over at the 5 minute mark in order to promote even cooking.
  3. While the turkey cooks, remove the broccoli from the freezer. Slice the shallots into 1-inch long, thin slices and set in a bowl. Place a large pot on the stove filled with about 1-inch of water. Insert a steamer basket, place a lid on the pot and turn the burner on high. When the water begins to boil, add the broccoli to the steamer basket and reduce the heat to medium. Return the lid to the pot and steam until the broccoli is bright green, about 4 minutes.
  4. In a medium sized sauce pot, add 1 cup of quinoa plus 3 cups of water. Cover with a lid. Turn the burner on high heat and bring to boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the quinoa has tripled in size. You'll know it's done when the grain appears translucent and the little “tail” or germ has released from the grain. When the quinoa is done, turn off the burner. Leave the pot on the burner with the lid ajar so that any remaining water will evaporate.
  5. When the turkey is done, remove it from the skillet, and set aside, covered on a plate to keep warm. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the onions to the skillet with about 1/4 cup of water. Use a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium, and allow the onions to steam, about 3 minutes.
  6. While the onions cook, combine 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until smooth. Add the flour and water mixture to the onions and stir to coat the onions. The combination will thicken. Next add the milk, chicken broth and balsamic vinegar. Using a wire whisk or a fork and constantly stir the mixture until it thickens, about 5 minutes. While you're stirring, add the thyme and black pepper and stir to combine flavors. Next add the steamed broccoli to the thickened mixture.
  7. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the parmesan with the mayo and Dijon mustard. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the parmesan mixture.
  8. Add half of the broccoli mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Using clean hands, shred the turkey on top of the broccoli mixture, then pour the rest of the broccoli mixture over the turkey. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese. Place the baking dish about 6 inches from the top oven coils. Cook for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat up to 450 degree and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with cooked quinoa.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2 cups casserole served over 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat

Total Fat
11 g


Total Carbohydrates


% Daily Value*
Vitamin A 25% Copper 21%
Vitamin C 178% Vitamin B12 9%
Calcium 33% Vitamin B-6 44%
Riboflavin-B2 24% Iron 31%
Selenium 19% Pantothenic Acid 15%
Vitamin D 7% Vitamin E 8%
Phosphorus 50% Potassium 28%
Magnesium 31% Manganese 51%
Folate 32% Zinc 17%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

For an introduction to quinoa, check out my quinoa and brown rice cakes, and quinoa and brown rice cereal.