Paula Deen’s Chicken Divan Made Healthy

Chicken Quinoa Casserole
Melissa Valliant/HellaWella


  • 4 Cups  chicken, chopped
  • 1 Cup  uncooked quinoa
  • packages frozen, chopped broccoli
  • can Campbell's 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/3 Cup  low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons  milk
  • 1 1/4 Cup  reduced-fat cheese (Cheddar, Colby-Jack, or Monterey Jack), shredded
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  Splenda/sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  salt
  •   Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  •   Parmesan cheese

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.

— Melissa Valliant, HellaWella


Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package.

Remove the outer wrappers from the boxes of broccoli. Open 1 end of each box. Microwave on full power for 2 to 2 ½ minutes, until thawed. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease large (9-by-13.5 inch) casserole dish.

In large bowl, mix soup, mayo, milk, shredded cheese, Splenda, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the quinoa, chicken, and broccoli.

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.


Calories per serving:

646 calories

Dietary restrictions:

Low Carb Sugar Conscious, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Alcohol Free

Daily value:



  • Fat 275g 423%
  • Carbs 139g 46%
  • Saturated 88g 441%
  • Fiber 14g 57%
  • Trans 4g
  • Sugars 6g
  • Monounsaturated 67g
  • Polyunsaturated 37g
  • Protein 207g 414%
  • Cholesterol 766mg 255%
  • Sodium 6,085mg 254%
  • Calcium 2,291mg 229%
  • Magnesium 544mg 136%
  • Potassium 2,510mg 72%
  • Iron 14mg 77%
  • Zinc 24mg 157%
  • Phosphorus 3,155mg 451%
  • Vitamin A 1,060µg 118%
  • Vitamin C 9mg 15%
  • Thiamin (B1) 1mg 73%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 3mg 157%
  • Niacin (B3) 42mg 209%
  • Vitamin B6 3mg 150%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 434µg 109%
  • Vitamin B12 5µg 77%
  • Vitamin D 4µg 1%
  • Vitamin E 10mg 49%
  • Vitamin K 78µg 97%
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