by Olena

Cheeseburger Quinoa Casserole

by Olena

quinoa casserole

While the name suggests a completely unhealthy meal, this cheeseburger quinoa casserole is quite the opposite.

Have you seen that WHO confirmed processed and red meat cause cancer?! That is not news to me but quite reassuring and a good reminder. Now to make it clear moderation and occasional consumption are OK but on a regular basis – that is where it gets risky. Overall, overconsumption of any animal products is not healthy – The China Study is an easy read about connection between meat and cancer.

quinoa casserole


I used only 1 lb of meat and 4 oz of cheese in this wonderful sounding like junk food quinoa casserole. In reality, it is very flavourful and healthy. Quinoa cooks in the casserole as well. That is when GIR‘s silicone lids come in handy – you could win 3 of them in a giveaway. All you have to do is to be subscribed to iFOODreal’s newsletter. I also used homemade cream of mushroom soup (would you like a recipe?) but you could buy Amy’s or Pacific brand.

quinoa casserole

Honestly, this week has been hard in terms of nutrition and my family.

My first struggle was with a hockey team that implemented snacks after each game (3 times a week) and they consisted of doughnuts, timbits, rice krispies, cookies and juice boxes so far. I talked to a manager, coach, association and feel a very big minority in this society. My bottom line is that nutrition of a child is up to each parent’s and let’s not enforce someone else’s believes onto each other when we are getting together to play hockey and not eat every game. I realized how hard it is to change something that has been instilled on this society for decades – junk food is not really considered junk for many people. But still, I made my choice and we all have choices. So far, my son is allowed to take only fruit and he is OK with it. We had many discussions and mainly me and Alex stand as examples – after our workouts we do not eat doughnuts. We have treats but not that often. Gotta live a little too.

quinoa casserole

Second surprise came out after an intense workout class from an instructor saying “Oatmeal makes you fat. Stop eating it”. When I, thinking it was a joke, asked what should we eat, he replied “I have no breakfast or bacon and eggs”. Um…this is a great reminder to do your own research, talk to certified nutritionists and dieticians, doctors but do not blindly follow advice of fitness professionals about nutrition because many of them do not enough education in this area. Plus with a recent explosion of paleo and gluten free diets whose advocates are quit aggressive in their views, you need to really explore all information out there and decide for yourself.

I remember being told to eat a lot of animal protein to get lean when I was doing Beachbody workouts. Well, after my mom got diagnosed with a tumour on her kidney I WOKE UP. I talked to a doctor, registered dieticians, nutritionists and it was clear to me that overconsumption of animal products is not healthy. Fitness world is hung up on it because it makes them lean and ripped but it doesn’t mean it makes your body healthy from inside.

Don’t be afraid to go with your heart and enjoy this healthy cheeseburger quinoa casserole!


Cheeseburger Quinoa Casserole

Quinoa casserole with meat of choice, tomatoes, mustard and cheese. Comfort food made healthy.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 75 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 lb ground meat of choice (lean beef, chicken or turkey)
  • 1 1/4 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups any broth, low sodium
  • 1 cup strained tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can organic cream of mushroom soup (like Pacific or Amy’s)
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded Mozzarella/Cheddar cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray (I use Misto)


  1. Preheat large non-stick skillet on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion, garlic and bell peppers; saute until translucent, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Return skillet on medium-high heat and add ground meat. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes, breaking into pieces and stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl with cooked vegetables from a previous step. Add remaining ingredients, except 1/2 cup cheese. Stir well and transfer mixture to a prepared baking dish and level with spatula.
  3. Bake covered for 40 minutes, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

Freeze: Assemble, tightly wrap with plastic and then foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as per instructions + 15 minutes.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.


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19 comments on “Cheeseburger Quinoa Casserole

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  1. Haven’t made this yet, but it sounds wonderful! I live in Florida and the big stores here (Publix) carries Buffalo (North American Bison) meat from Mustang Ranch, which is leaner than cow, and grass fed so it is raised eating ‘clean’. I think this would be a great alternative meat for this recipe.

    And this recipe is SO EASY!!! Yay!

    1. Yes, totally. Bison or like I often used ground venison my mom hunts for. Well, her husband hunts. It is red meat but very lean and basically raised on organic plants. Go for it. It is a quality meat.

      1. We double recipes and eat them for a couple days to save money. Cheaper and better than buying frozen food or eating out.

  2. I made this tonight and it was soooo delicious! Lots of flavor and very comforting. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes as I am eating mostly clean these days and am looking better because of it.

  3. I am new to the clean eating lifestyle. I have been a vegetarian for 17 years but unfortunately a lot of alternative meats are heavily processed. I have watched Fed up recently and Forks over knives documentaries. Do you recommend any other books, documentaries or online articles that you have found to be helpful on your journey to clean eating? Oh and on top of being a vegetarian I also am gluten intolerant so I am always trying to find ways to eat healthier and stay within my dietary restrictions. Which is another reason why I love your recipes. I can easily substitute plant based proteins or gluten free options in your recipes. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Elizabeth. Oh great! I naturally do not use a lot of flour in my cooking so making my recipes GF is easy. I guess that is why I do not fall a victim of GF trend because I do not eat a lot of gluten in a first place. For you it’s a different story. I would recommend Tosca Reno’s books like Eat Clean Diet. She is also a publisher of Clean Eating Magazine. You can get all of them in your local library. Let me know which recipe you try next and how you like it.:)

  4. Olena, made this last night WOW we loved it. You surely can tell when you eating clean and healthy foods. I can’t stand to eat any processed junk anymore. My son wanted a boxed pizza for supper, so while I had the oven on from making this recipe. I went ahead and made him and his sister a pizza. So while I was eating this clean food, I asked the kids hey give me a small bite, so they did once I tasted it I got up from the table and RAN to the garbage can and spit it out. How horrible yuck. These company’s call it food and they sale and make millions on cardboard trash. No more at this house ! I love to cook and put food together for a clean and healthy meal. Just gotta to get my kids picky eaters on board. Keep putting Great recipes out Olena, Thank you for doing the homework for us and making the recipes so healthy and good and taste wonderful full of flavor. Thank you Olena!

    1. Hi Amy. Good, right?! Lots of flavour. Did your kids try this casserole? It is quite flavourful, even my 4 year old vacuumed his plate. This one I had no problem feeding my kids. We have big problem with all squash and sweet potatoes, sigh. But it’s the age – I was the same. Junk tastes very salty and overwhelming. My kids eat cheese pizza occasionally but I really should make a few batches of my own and freeze. I talked to my son and he said he would love to help. Yes, doing it this Friday!

  5. Hi Olena,
    I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and I just stumbled across your website while browsing healthy recipes on Pinterest. I just wanted to let you know how great it is that you tell people to do their own research and to talk to different professionals. I have struggled with trying to teach my clients about whole foods and having a better relationship with foods. This can be very difficult when they are constantly bombarded with different kinds of diets (like the Beachbody one you spoke of). Your website is great and I really look forward to trying out some of your delicious looking recipes!

    1. Hi Mandy. Internet is our friend and enemy at same time. People want an easy way out and that is why trends are popular. Just like low fat diet back then, now it is paleo and gluten free era. If I decided to eliminate a certain group of whole foods from my diet I would talk to a doctor or certified professional like nutritionist or dietitian. Otherwise, it might be very risky and result in issues not tomorrow but 5-20 years later. I have no problem eliminating processed food w/o doctor’s approval though LOL. I tried it all a bit and I have to say honestly it was a nightmare to eat this and not this. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how a whole food can be bad for you!!! So, I kept digging and digging. And how silly of me it was to do it without speaking to a specialist. Honestly, I woke up after talking to a Holistic Nutritionist a year ago at a conference. I was surprised when she said too much protein can shut down kidneys eventually. I was like “Whaaaaat?!” and then I realized we, normal folks, really need help in nutrition from certified specialists. Of course, media and companies make huge $$$ on trends but like with everything we are responsible to look out for our own best interest because no one else will. In Ukraine, we ate what we had and we didn’t have much. There was no boxes, cans, packages, supplements, drinks etc. to worry about, so no diets, trends and specialists to talk to about anything. Show Colombian or African person a jar of prepped food and they will laugh in your face. Paleo or gluten free?! What?! Food comes from the ground, period. That is why I enjoy watching Amazing Race because I see how 3rd world countries look at North Americans like aliens because we truly are so different and unreal in many ways. We lost touch with reality of life.
      Thank you for stopping by and let me know if you try any recipes.:)

  6. Hi Olena! Is the ground meat cooked before adding it to the casserole dish? The recipe doesn’t specify, but the pictures make it appear that it is.