[Recipe] Paula Deen’s chicken divan made healthy


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One of my mom’s go-to dishes when I was little was Paula Deen’s chicken divan — and I don’t blame her. It’s easy, quick and absolutely delicious. (Check out the recipe here.)

But when I thought of making it the other day and took a good hard look at the ingredients, I was shocked by how many high-fat foods were part of it: condensed cream of mushroom soup; a whole cup (each) of mayonnaise, sour cream and cheddar cheese; and 2 tablespoons of butter. I decided the recipe needed a makeover.

Since I’m not sure my new and improved recipe even qualifies anymore as “chicken divan,” I just call it chicken, broccoli and quinoa casserole. The cream of mushroom soup was replaced with Campbell’s 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom; I reduced the mayo to 1/3 of a cup and used low-fat instead; the regular cheddar was switched with reduced-fat cheese — and yes, I did increase the amount by ¼ cup; and I completely eliminated the sour cream, plus a few other ingredients.

I added quinoa to make it a little heartier and to make up for the reduction in ingredients. (To learn more about why you should be cooking with quinoa and to see more quinoa recipes, click here.)

Feel free to use fresh broccoli instead of frozen. I use this recipe when I want something inexpensive and quick, so I stuck with frozen. Want it to be even easier? Buy a Rotisserie chicken, strip all of the meat off of it and chop it into small pieces — it should come out to about 4 cups of chicken. This will add a little fat since the skin was on it when it was cooked, but considering the recipe is fairly low-fat already, I don’t think it makes a huge difference.



Chicken, broccoli & quinoa casserole

  • 4 cups of chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup of (uncooked) quinoa
  • 2 packages of frozen, chopped broccoli
  • 1 can of Campbell’s 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 ¼ cup of reduced-fat cheese (cheddar, Colby-Jack or Monterey Jack), shredded
  • ½ teaspoon Splenda/sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Parmesan


1. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package.

2. Remove the outer wrappers from the boxes of broccoli. Open 1 end of each box. Microwave on full power for 2 to 2.5 minutes, until thawed. Drain.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease large (9 in. x 13.5 in.) casserole dish.

4. In large bowl, combine soup, mayo, milk, shredded cheese, Splenda, pepper and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa, chicken and broccoli.

5. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle on a thin layer of Parmesan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly on the edges and golden.

Makes about 6 servings.