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11 Healthy Casserole Recipes for People with Diabetes

These lightened-up, healthier versions of classic one-dish casserole recipes contain more veggies and fiber to make for a delicious dinner.

overhead view of woman placing a casserole dish on dinner tableCavan Images/Getty Images

Making casseroles healthier

Who doesn’t love a good casserole? Throw a bunch of ingredients together, bake, and soon you have a piping-hot pan of deliciousness. But not all recipes are created equal. We rounded up some healthy and tasty casseroles for people with diabetes. They sub out some of the lesser-quality ingredients with higher nutrition swaps so you can feel good about what you’re eating. See what your taste buds think.

Whole-Wheat Mac and Cheese with Spinach RecipeTaste of Home

Whole-Wheat Mac and Cheese with Spinach Recipe

We’ve made this comfort food casserole for people with diabetes by using whole-wheat pasta, a lightened cheese sauce, and a surprise layer of spinach.

Serves 6

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 45 to 55 minutes

• Salt for pasta water, plus 1/4 teaspoon for sauce

• 1 3/4 cups low-fat (1%) milk, divided

• 3 tablespoons flour

• 2 cups (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp fat-free cheddar cheese

• 1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese

• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

• Ground pepper to taste

• 1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach

• 2 cups (8 ounces) whole-wheat macaroni

• 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking the macaroni.

2. Whisk 1/4 cup of the milk with the flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Add the flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce boils and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Stir in the cottage cheese, nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

3. Cook the spinach according to package directions. Drain and press out excess moisture.

4. Cook the macaroni, stirring often, in the boiling water until not quite tender, 4 to 5 minutes. (The macaroni will continue to cook while baking.) Drain, rinse with cold running water, then drain again.

5. Mix the macaroni with the cheese sauce in a large bowl. Spread half of the macaroni mixture in the baking dish. Spoon the spinach on top. Spread the remaining macaroni mixture over the spinach layer. Sprinkle with wheat germ.

6. Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 35 to 45 minutes.

Per serving (1 1/3 cups): 289 calories, 3 g fat (1 g sat), 40 g carbs, 24 g protein, 3 g fiber, 10 mg cholesterol, 541 mg sodium, 421 mg calcium

Chicken Potpie with Vegetables RecipeTaste of Home

Chicken Potpie with Vegetables Recipe

This classic comfort food has a healthful twist: a higher ratio of vegetables to meat.

Serves 8

Prep time 25 minutes plus cooling

Cook time 45 minutes

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 leeks, rinsed, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped

• 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

• 2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

• 1 large red potato, unpeeled and cut into bite-size chunks

• 1 cup thickly sliced mushrooms

• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 can (14 ounces) reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

• 2 cups bite-size pieces cooked chicken

• 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

• Prepackaged pastry for single-crust 9-inch pie

• 1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon milk, for glaze

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, celery, carrots, and potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in flour, thyme, and salt until blended. Stir in broth. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken and peas. Transfer mixture to 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F.

3. Unfold pastry, checking that it fits on top of pie plate. Brush underside of pastry with some of the egg-milk glaze and place over filling. Trim edge and flute pastry, if desired. Brush top of pastry with remaining glaze. Cut four 1-inch slits in center of pastry to vent steam.

4. Bake until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 278 calories, 11 g fat (3 g sat), 30 g carbs, 15 g protein, 4 g fiber, 28 mg cholesterol, 351 mg sodium, 50 mg calcium

Almond Chicken Pasta Bake RecipeTaste of Home

Almond Chicken Pasta Bake Recipe

This full-flavored chicken creation can be made hours ahead of time. Just refrigerate, then let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking. Adapted from Louise Warren Blades, Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Serves 12

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

• 4 1/2 cups bow tie pasta

• 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

• 1/4 cup chopped onion

• 4 tablespoons butter

• 1/2 cup flour

• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

• 2 cups fat-free half-and-half

• 1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth

• 3 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

• 2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

• 1 can (14 ounces) no-salt diced tomatoes, drained

• 6 strips turkey bacon, crumbled

• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

• 3 tablespoons sherry or additional chicken broth

• 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, saute mushrooms and onion in butter, 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is tender. Whisk in flour and nutmeg until blended. Add half-and-half and broth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

3. Add drained pasta to cream sauce on the stove. Add broccoli, chicken, tomatoes, bacon, 1 cup of the cheese, and the sherry or broth. Transfer to a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with almonds and the remaining cheese.

4. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Per serving: 268 calories, 11 g fat (4 g sat), 23 g carbs, 17 g protein, 2 g fiber, 48 mg cholesterol, 353 mg sodium, 126 mg calcium

Spinach-Stuffed Manicotti with Mushrooms RecipeTaste of Home

Spinach-Stuffed Manicotti with Mushrooms Recipe

Stuffing these pasta shells with a mixture of ricotta and spinach results in a lighter but still decadent-tasting dish.

Serves 8

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

• 8 manicotti or cannelloni shells

• 2 teaspoons olive oil

• 1 small onion, finely chopped

• 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed

• 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

• 4 ounces reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

• 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

• 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 1/4 cups no-salt tomato sauce

16 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook manicotti 8 minutes. Drain. Let cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Saute until softened, 5 minutes.

3. In colander, briefly drain spinach, retaining some liquid. In large bowl, stir together spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, garlic powder, and salt.

4. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Stuff each manicotti shell at both ends with spinach mixture to fill completely. Arrange manicotti in single layer in baking dish. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Cover with foil.

5. Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.

6. About 5 minutes before manicotti is finished baking, heat remaining teaspoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms. Sauté just until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Serve manicotti topped with mushrooms.

Per serving: 201 calories, 5 g fat (2 g sat), 27 g carbs, 14 g protein, 3 g fiber, 14 mg cholesterol, 207 mg sodium, 339 mg calcium

Turkey Tetrazzini RecipeTaste of Home

Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe

This noodle, mushroom, and turkey casserole features a creamy, reduced-fat white sauce and gets an extra boost of seasoning from cayenne pepper and nutmeg.

Serves 6

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

• 10 ounces fettuccine

• 2 teaspoons olive oil

• 4 scallions, thinly sliced

• 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced

• 2 tablespoons flour

• 1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

• 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 8 ounces cooked turkey breast, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add flour to pan and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are evenly coated, about 2 minutes. Add half-and-half, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan, the cooked pasta, and turkey.

4. Transfer to 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan on top. Bake until bubbling and crusty, about 10 minutes.

Per serving: 332 calories, 6 g fat (3 g sat), 45 g carbs, 24 g protein, 2 g fiber, 42 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 177 mg calcium

Tuna-Noodle Casserole RecipeTaste of Home

Tuna-Noodle Casserole Recipe

This family pleaser tends to be loaded with fat, but we’ve made a few simple changes—like using fat-free milk and cheese—to make it a healthier casserole. The changes won’t affect the creamy, savory flavor.

Serves 6

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

• 8 ounces broad egg noodles

• 1 can (4 ounces) mushrooms, drained

• 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) low-sodium cream of mushroom soup

• 1 can (6 ounces) water-packed tuna, drained

• 1/2 cup fat-free milk

• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

• 1 cup frozen peas

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook the noodles according to the package directions until firm-tender, then drain.

2. Combine the noodles, mushrooms, soup, tuna, milk, cheese, and peas in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Per serving: 272 calories, 4 g fat (1 g sat), 36 g carbs, 21 g protein, 3 g fiber, 56 mg cholesterol, 409 mg sodium, 218 mg calcium

stuffed veggies casserolesTaste of Home

Stuffed Vegetables Recipe

These colorful edible bowls are stuffed with a mixture of lean lamb, fresh vegetables, and brown rice for a satisfying main dish.

Serves 6

Prep time 45 minutes

Cook time 45 to 50 minutes

• 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

• 8 ounces lean ground lamb

• 1 onion, chopped

• 4 bell peppers

• 4 large, firm, ripe tomatoes

• 2 large zucchini, about 8 ounces each

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

• 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

• 10 ounces baby spinach leaves

• 5 tablespoons shredded fresh basil, divided

• 1 large egg, lightly beaten

• Salt and ground black pepper

1. Cook the rice according to the package directions. Meanwhile, put lamb and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute until the lamb is cooked through and the onion is soft. Place a sieve over a bowl and add the meat mixture to it so the fat drips through.

2. Cut each pepper in half lengthwise, remove the core and seeds. Cut the stem end off the tomatoes and hollow out the insides (reserve any juices). Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and hollow out to make shells, 1/4 inch thick. Chop the tops and flesh of the peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini and place in a bowl with tomato juices.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped vegetables and saute until slightly soft. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons basil, the rice, and lamb. Mix in the egg and salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the stuffing into the vegetable shells. Arrange the peppers and zucchini in a single layer in one or two roasting pans. Cover with foil and roast 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue roasting until the vegetables are almost tender, about 15 minutes longer. Uncover the vegetables and continue roasting until they are tender and the tops are lightly brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve sprinkled with the remaining fresh basil.

Per serving: 234 calories, 6 g fat (1 g sat), 33 g carbs, 15 g protein, 7 g fiber, 55 mg cholesterol, 154 mg sodium, 108 mg calcium

eggplant parm casseroleTaste of Home

Eggplant Lasagna Recipe

Eggplant contains fiber, vitamins, and is surprisingly high in antioxidants. It’s also an excellent substitute for meat. In this reworked casserole for people with diabetes, the eggplant is mixed with garlic, onions, and tomato for a wholesome, stick-to-your-ribs meal.

Serves 12

Prep time 60 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

• 2 cans (14 ounces each) no-salt diced tomatoes

• 1 can (28 ounces) no-salt tomato sauce

• 1 small eggplant (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 container (16 ounces) light silken tofu, drained

• 2 large eggs

• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 9 no-boil lasagna noodles

• 1 package (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer 40 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Add the eggplant, coat with cooking spray, and sprinkle with the salt. Roast, turning occasionally, until browned, 30 minutes.

3. In a food processor, combine the tofu, eggs, and Parmesan and puree until smooth.

4. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup prepared tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish and arrange 3 lasagna noodles on top. Spread 1/2 of the tofu filling over the noodles, followed by 1/2 of the eggplant. Top with 1 1/2 cups sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat with another layer, then top with the remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella.

5. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Per serving: 244 calories, 9 g fat (4 g sat), 25 g carbs, 14 g protein, 3 g fiber, 46 mg cholesterol, 324 mg sodium, 359 mg calcium

crab penne casseroleTaste of Home

Crab and Penne Casserole Recipe

Store-bought light Alfredo sauce lends creaminess to this comforting, zucchini-filled dish. Adapted from Bernadette Bennett, Waco, Texas

Serves 8

Prep time 20 minutes

Bake time 40 minutes

• 2 cups penne pasta

• 1 jar (17 ounces) light Alfredo sauce

• 1 1/2 cups imitation crabmeat, chopped

• 1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced

• 1 medium zucchini, sliced

• 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

• 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

• 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese

• 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

• 2 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the Alfredo sauce, crab, yellow squash, zucchini, parsley, and pepper flakes.

3. Add pasta to sauce mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

4. Cover and bake 35 minutes. Toss breadcrumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes longer or until browned.

Per serving: 296 calories, 8 g fat (4 g sat), 31 g carbs, 25 g protein, 1 g fiber, 55 mg cholesterol, 685 mg sodium, 323 mg calcium

lamb stew casserolesTaste of Home

Savory Lamb Stew with Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Okra and peanut butter contribute to the thickness and heartiness of this West African–inspired stew. In addition to the beta-carotene supplied by sweet potatoes, this dish is also rich in zinc and B vitamins from the lamb.

Serves 4

Prep time 15 minutes

Bake time 40 minutes

• 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

• 1 lb. well-trimmed lean leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch chunks

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 cup canned no-salt crushed tomatoes

• 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

• 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1 package (10 ounces) frozen cut or whole okra, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large nonstick Dutch oven or flameproof casserole dish, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and saute 5 minutes, or until browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the onion, and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup water, and cook until the onion is golden brown and tender.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, salt, cayenne, and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Return the lamb to the pan. Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake 25 minutes.

4. Stir in the okra, return the pan to the oven, and bake 15 minutes, or until the lamb and okra are tender.

Per serving: 376 calories, 13 g fat (3 g sat), 33 g carbs, 29 g protein, 7 g fiber, 75 mg cholesterol, 459 mg sodium, 129 mg calcium

tofu stuffed shells casseroleTaste of Home

Tofu-Stuffed Shells Recipe

Your gang won’t even miss the meat in this flavorful pasta dish, which jazzes up tofu with cheese, spinach, and garlic. Adapted from Jenni Dise, Phoenix, Arizona.

Serves 5

Prep time 25 minutes

Bake time 35 minutes

• 15 uncooked jumbo pasta shells

• 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) silken firm tofu

• 3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, divided

• 2 garlic cloves, peeled

• 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

• 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt Italian diced tomatoes, drained

• 1 can (8 ounces) no-salt tomato sauce

• 1/4 cup dry red wine or vegetable broth

• 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta shells according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the tofu, 2 tablespoons of the Romano cheese, and garlic; cover and process until smooth. (Add 1 tablespoon water if mixture is too thick.) Add spinach and process until blended. Drain shells, then stuff with tofu mixture.

3. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and wine or broth. Spread about 1/2 cup into a greased 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Arrange stuffed shells over sauce. Top with remaining sauce.

4. Cover and bake 25 minutes. Uncover, then sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Romano cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer, or until shells are heated through and cheese is melted.

Per serving: 290 calories, 6 g fat (3 g sat), 39 g carbs, 18 g protein, 5 g fiber, 11 mg cholesterol, 249 mg sodium, 271 mg calcium