Tuna Lentil Noodle Casserole with a Twist (grain and dairy free)
I have found that encouraging my kids to eat lots of vegetables goes through stages of ease and difficulty. Currently, the boys (age 7) are easy and the girls (age 3) are challenging. The boys will eat pretty much all vegetables offered to them, except salad, that requires some encouragement. The girls will eat vegetables anywhere but at the table. Annabelle is more willing than Maddy. Her new favorite line is, “Vegetables are yuck!” I just smile and say that’s ok, you will like them again, as she is drinking her purple cabbage and beet smoothie.
Vegetables in EVERYTHING!
One of my ways to consistently encourage vegetable consumption is to put them in everything from smoothies to casseroles, sauces and dip. Typically my veggie choices are driven seasonally, but there are also some go to staples I access year round. The farmer’s market and garden are big influencers of my menu. This dish used fresh cabbage, onions and garlic from the farmer’s market. I used fresh herbs and greens from my garden. The rest of the veggies I found at Trader Joe’s or Costco.
Spice it up!
Adding fresh herbs and plenty of dried spices to your vegetables really makes them more appealing for little eaters. Also, don’t fear the salt shaker! If your kids are eating a real food diet and not eating processed food you don’t need to worry about excess sodium. Using a high quality salt, like Redmond’s real salt is a great way to add minerals to their diet. Salt also aids in hydration as water follows salt. Dr. Axe has an excellent article on the health benefits of sea salt.
Use an alternative noodle and pack in the nutrition!
Tolerant pasta is our family’s go to brand when it comes to pasta dishes. I feel good about feeding myself and my kids this protein and fiber rich pasta. I Lentil Noodles with Veggie Sauce (grain and dairy free) is another recipe that you may enjoy.
We choose Tolerant pasta because it is certified organic, non-GMO and certified gluten free. Those values are important to me when it comes to feeding my family. Each serving of pasta also has 21 grams of protein and at least 11 grams of fiber! To me, that is pretty awesome!
Tip: When you cook lentil noodles, don’t boil them too hard, keep the heat on medium-high or a gentle rolling boil. Once cooked, drain them in a colander and rinse them with cool water.
Onto the recipe…
The coolest thing about this recipe is how my kids helped me build it and prepare their dinner! Cameron opened and drained the cans of fish.
Cameron, William and Annabelle helped me shell the pistachios for the topping. I love my little William, but I must say the main reason he volunteered for the job was because he ate most of his work.
VEGGIES: 1/2 small head of purple cabbage, chopped finely 1 large green zucchini, diced 1 yellow squash, diced 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 yellow bell pepper, diced 4 stalks of celery, sliced 1/2 red onion, minced 1 head of garlic, minced About 2 cups of greens, shredded Fresh sage, rosemary, oregano and basil, minced
Lightly steam cabbage, zucchini and yellow squash until it deepens and color and softens, about 1-2 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Sauté the onion, garlic and celery until soft. Next add the bell peppers and sauté along with the onion, garlic and celery until they deepen in color. Finally add the greens and the herbs.
Toss all together in a large bowl.
1 can Wild Planet Sardines 1 can wild caught salmon (I got mine at Costco) 1 can Wild Planet Tuna
Mix all together a medium bowl along with a splash of apple cider vinegar.
NOW COMBINE ALL:
Combine your veggie mix with the fish and cooked lentil pasta. Pour into a 9×11 pyrex baking dish and top with 1 cup of chopped pistachio meats.
Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes until heated through.
I served this dish along with a garden salad, coconut sprouted rice and steamed green beans.
This dish could easily be packed in a lunchbox and served warm or cold. It was a hit with all four kids.
Be creative and build your own casserole!
I would definitely say, this dish is more an idea than a recipe. There is something freeing about not having to follow a recipe. Instead, build from flavor and nutrient density.
I hope you enjoy this yummy dish as much as my four kids did!