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Jo Knows Nutrition by Joanne Nijhuis

Tuna Noodle Casserole Done Healthy

Tuna noodle casserole is a classic dish from the 1950s that is still kicking around today. Like chilli and meatloaf, there are so many different versions to be enjoyed and everyone has their favourite. Traditionally made with canned cream of mushroom soup, this take on the retro dish is healthier, but equally satisfying. Copy the recipe to a T or play around with the ingredients and create your own family favourite. Enjoy!


  • 12 ounces (336 grams) dried pasta or 6 cups (1500 ml) cooked pasta of choice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 ½ -2 cups (375-500 ml) sliced mushrooms of choice
  • 1 ½ teaspoon (7.5 ml) dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) garlic powder
  • ¼ cup (63 ml) white or whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups (500 ml) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk (dairy, almond, soy or oat)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) frozen peas
  • 3 or 4 cans (170 grams) tuna, drained
  • 1 cup (250 ml) grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup (250 ml) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups (250 ml) panko or regular breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup (188 ml) sliced green olives, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray or grease with olive oil.
  2. Cook the pasta, drain and set aside.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, thyme, and garlic powder. Sauté for 4-6 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the onions are translucent.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Whisk in the broth and milk for 2-3 minutes until smooth and thickened.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add the peas, tuna, pasta, olives, cheddar cheese and half of the parmesan cheese, Stir gently, until combined and heated through.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the remaining parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.
  10. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the casserole.
  11. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling.

Joanne Nijhuis MSc, RD is a consulting, media and culinary dietitian in Simcoe Grey Bruce on a mission to entertain and educate through her love of food. In addition to recipe development and writing for several publications, Joanne offers nutrition talks and cooking demos/classes in-person and online via Zoom. For more information, email Joanne at jo.knows.nutrition@outlook.com   www.joknowsnutrition.com Instagram: jo_knows_nutrition

Did You Know?

Canned tuna is versatile, easy on the wallet and it has a longer shelf life than its fresh or frozen counterparts.  Tuna is a great source of protein and contains omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for heart health. Tuna is also a good source of vitamin D and calcium, B12 and selenium. While there is some concern regarding the mercury content in certain fish species, take note that the risk is small.  To be on the safe side, Health Canada has recommended that we limit our intake of tuna, shark, swordfish, escolar, marlin and orange roughy to a maximum of 150 grams per week. Being aware of these recommendations and eating a variety of fish is great way to reap the health benefits without the concern of too much mercury.

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