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Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free}

Updated: Jun 17

A dairy-free re-creation of the chicken and rice casserole I grew up on. This Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole is creamy + delicious without any dairy! Cashew cream replaces the tried and true cream of chicken soup. Chicken bone broth brings the flavor, along with garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. Sprouted brown rice ups the nutritional content, along with easier digestion! Healthy, delicious, and a classic that won’t have you missing your mom’s, well maybe just a little…there’s nothing like mom’s cooking!

This was a recipe my mom made often in our house. I remember smothering it with ranch dressing. Those days are over but I am so thankful for all the dairy-free subs I have learned along the way (including a ranch dressing my husband likes better than the original…recipe coming your way !). Even though this recipe doesn’t taste exactly like my momma made it I am plum happy with this delicious re-creation!

Let’s talk Sprouted!

This recipe calls for sprouted brown rice. I was so excited when I saw sprouted brown rice in the bulk bins at our local grocery store! Plain brown rice contains the anti-nutrients lectin and phytic acid, + more. These anti-nutrients can wreak havoc on the digestive system. The grains you eat are actually the seeds of the plant. “Lectins in plants are a defense against microorganisms, pests, and insects. Lectins may also have evolved as a way for seeds to remain intact as they passed through animals’ digestive systems, for later dispersal. Lectins are resistant to human digestion and they enter the blood unchanged” (Precision Nutrition).

By soaking seeds in salt water, or another acidic medium, we are emulating or copying what happens in nature each spring. In spring, the soil becomes more acidic. This signals seeds to wake up and sprout, to no longer protect themselves, to send forth a shoot. Less protected from harsh, cold temperatures, means a reduction in phytic acid and less protection from our digestive mechanisms. Our bodies can easily digest a living vegetable instead of a dormant seed. Eat Beautiful

Lectins can lead to “leaky gut”, inflammation and even autoimmunity. By soaking, sprouting, fermenting and boiling you can significantly reduce the amounts of lectins and other anti-nutrients.

Sprouting whole grains, like brown rice, also breaks down phytic acid, which hampers the absorption of minerals, like the magnesium, calcium, and zinc in rice + inhibits the production of certain enzymes that we need to digest protein. By reducing the phytic acid, these nutrients are now more available for your body to absorb. Studies even show that sprouting may increase the nutrient content of grains and legumes + more, including increased protein, vitamins, especially the B-group vitamins + antioxidants.

Our ancestors and virtually all pre-industrialised people used traditional methods of soaking, sprouting, activating & fermenting to properly prepare grains, nuts, legumes & seeds before eating them. Pink Farm

If you can’t find brown rice, white rice is a good substitute as white rice contains fewer anti-nutrients than brown. Just be a little more cautious as too much white rice can cause blood sugar imbalances. If you’re having white rice, combine it with a good source of protein and some good fat (like in this recipe:)) which will help slow the rise of your blood sugar. Exercise will also help with this.

This isn’t just important for grains, but also nuts! The cashews in this recipe are also soaked, not just to help make them cream when blended, but to reduce anti-nutrients!

This Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole contains lots of other fabulous nutrient-dense ingredients like broccoli, spinach, garlic, onions, bone broth, cashews, sea salt, pepper…well, come to think of it, there’s not an ingredient in this recipe that isn’t good for you! This recipe has a lot of the same ingredients, along with some health benefits of those ingredients if you would like to know more!

I hope you get a chance to make this recipe! If you do, I’d love to hear how it went in the comments!

Smiles, rainbows and a grain of rice. I could survive on that! Anthony T. Hincks

Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free}

A dairy-free re-creation of the chicken and rice casserole I grew up on. This Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole is creamy + delicious without any dairy! Cashew cream replaces the tried and true cream of chicken soup. Chicken bone broth brings the flavor, along with garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. Sprouted brown rice ups the nutritional content, along with easier digestion!

Course: Dinner, Entree

Cuisine: dairy-free, gluten-free

Keyword: broccoli, brown rice, brown rice casserole, chicken, chicken thighs, sprouted brown rice

Author: Alicia Raymond

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup raw cashews/cashew pieces

  2. 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

  3. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil +more for drizzling on chicken

  4. sea salt + pepper

  5. 1 cup sprouted brown rice

  6. 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (bone broth is best)

  7. 1/2 cup chicken broth (bone broth is best) for cream sauce

  8. 1/2 cup chopped red/white onion

  9. 4 cloves peeled garlic, divided

  10. 1 med-large head fresh broccoli

  11. 7 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 tbsp roughly chopped)

  12. 2 cups packed baby spinach, washed (I prefer to wash even though it says pre-washed because it has a weird flavor if it's not washed).

  13. chopped fresh parsley for sprinkling on top

Instructions


Soak cashews in warm water for at least an hour (longer is better) with a little sea salt.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken thighs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (important). Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees. Once finished cooking, set aside to cool. Save the parchment as you will use the drippings from it. Leave oven on at 375.


While chicken is cooking get your rice going. Boil 1 cup rice (I rinsed mine due to being in bulk bins but if your rice is sprouted you may not need to do this. Follow package instructions) with 1 3/4 cup chicken broth. Once brought to a full boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and rest for 10 minutes, with the lid on. Then fluff with a fork and set aside.


Steam broccoli while rice is cooking. Bring a large pot to a boil with a little bit of water, then place the steam basket in the pot. Wash and cut broccoli into large stems/groups of stems (with a good amount of stem is good). Place broccoli into pot and steam for about 10 min until on the firmer-side of fork-tender. Once finished steaming, place broccoli on cutting board and let cool.


Next, make the cashew cream sauce. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the high-speed blender with cashews, along with one clove of garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Blend until silky-smooth.


Now it's chopping time. Chop onion, if haven't already, mince the remaining 3 cloves of garlic + de-stem thyme and give a rough chop. Chop broccoli florets into small bite-sized pieces. Chop the stems as well into small pieces. Also, shred chicken into bite-size pieces (you could use two forks but I preferred to just use my fingers, making sure the chicken is cool enough to handle. The chicken comes apart pretty easily). Set all this aside, along with 2 cups washed and dried baby spinach.


Heat a large 12-inch cast-iron ( I used a smaller one and it was really hard to stir all of the ingredients in the end) or another skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp EVOO and onion. Turn heat down to medium and saute for about 3 minutes. Then add garlic and saute for another minute. Remove pan from heat.


Grease a 4-quart casserole dish, or 9×5 pan with the drippings from the chicken. Use the parchment paper as a funnel. You could use a pastry brush for this but I just used my good ol' handy fingers. If you don't have any drippings for some reason you can use EVOO. The drippings add good flavor.


Now it's time to add everything together. Add the chicken and rice to the skillet. Pour the creamy cashew sauce over the rice and sprinkle on the thyme, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add any leftover drippings and "brown/not burnt crispy bits for flavor. Now add in the spinach, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper (layer flavors as you go!). Save the broccoli for last so that it doesn' t get too broken up. Give a taste to make sure it's not too salty, if not, add a bit of sea salt and pepper to the broccoli as well. Make sure all ingredients are combined.


Place mixture in a casserole dish and push down with the back of wooden/another large spoon to flatten a bit. Don't worry about making it too flat.


Cover with foil and bake at 375degrees for about 30 minutes until heated through.


Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley + fresh ground pepper, if desired.


Enjoy!

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