Try this easy skillet pasta dish for dinner tonight. This 30-minute recipe is a healthier version of macaroni and cheese and will become a family favorite. You’ll love the cheesy sauce, delicious flavor, and especially the added veggies– the “super food” broccoli.
Chicken Broccoli Cheesy Shells Skillet
Keep reading for step-by-step recipe instructions.
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Mac and cheese typically has a rich, creamy cheese sauce making it high in fat, calories, and salt. But eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite foods.
This easy skillet pasta dish is one that my whole family enjoys (even the pickiest of eaters).
This recipe is a healthier version of macaroni and cheese with great flavor and even some veggies added.
Try this delicious pasta skillet recipe for dinner tonight.
IS MACARONI & CHEESE HEALTHY?
The blue box packaged mac & cheese isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice around; the processed grains with cheese sauce is high in unhealthy fats, calories, and sodium, and low in essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
This chicken broccoli cheesy shells skillet version of mac & cheese will still give you the same satisfying taste with perfectly seasoned lower-fat (but still delicious) cheese sauce, lean protein from the chicken, and even vegetables- delicious broccoli.
BENEFITS OF EATING BROCCOLI
If you want to get the most health benefits out of eating vegetables, broccoli is a great choice. It is considered a “super food” because of its healthy profile.
The benefits of broccoli are impressive, broccoli is low in calories (only 31 calories per cup), and rich in essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, other phytochemicals, and compounds that benefit our bodies.
Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, a good source of beta-carotene, Vitamin D, and folate, and it also contains thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, protein and fiber.
Broccoli has researched health benefits from these nutrients, including cancer prevention, lowering of cholesterol levels, and benefits to eye and gut health.
Broccoli is a food trend that you can get behind- it’s nutritious, easy to use, and affordable. Broccoli is a great vegetable to include in any meal.
One of the reasons why I love this dish so much is that it naturally incorporates one of my favorite superfoods – broccoli. Also check out 43 great reasons why broccoli is such an amazing superfood.
BEST WAYS TO COOK BROCCOLI
Broccoli is delicious eaten raw or cooked and it can easily be added into many dishes.
When preparing broccoli, it’s best to cook it in the least amount of water possible for a minimal amount of time. Boiling or blanching broccoli will cause the nutrients to leech into the cooking water (which is okay if you’re going to consume the water like in soup).
Dry-cooking methods such as grilling, roasting, microwaving, and stir frying retain nutrients best and give similar cooking results to boiling or blanching. Steaming is also a good option to give you less nutrient loss in the cooking process.
In this chicken broccoli cheesy skillet recipe, do not cook the broccoli too long in the water or it will lose more of the nutrients. You can also try to steam the broccoli first and then add it to the skillet.
Hope you enjoy this recipe, it calls for simple ingredients you are sure to have on hand. In just a little over 30 minutes, you can make this delicious and healthy meal for dinner. I know you’ll love this healthier spin off of the traditional version of macaroni and cheese.
- 8 oz medium shells pasta, uncooked
- 3 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the box, then add broccoli florets to the pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the chicken until it starts to brown (about 5 minutes).
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, chicken broth, and flour. Add salt, pepper, and chili powder and stir until completely combined. Pour the milk mixture into the pan with the chicken and let cook for a few minutes (2-3) until mixture starts to thicken.
- Add pasta and broccoli mixture and cheddar cheese; mix until cheese is melted. Continue to let it cook for a few more minutes until it's heated through completely.
- Remove skillet from heat, then let sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir one last time, then serve.
Recipe source: Diethood
If you are looking for more family-friendly healthy dinners, or quick meals for a busy night, be sure to check out my 14-Day Menu Plan for Busy Moms.
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