Saturday, March 30, 2013

Veggie Stuffed Peppers

I stumbled across a beautiful picture on Pinterest of veggies, quinoa and feta stuffed peppers.  They looked delicious!  On a recent Sunday, I took advantage of extra time in the kitchen to whip up my own version based on ingredients I had on hand (which is never a match to any recipe I find!) and enjoyed a lunch in peace and quiet while my little one napped.  This recipe was easy and tailored for messy cooks such as myself :)  It is also a recipe where you don't have to worry about exact measurements.  Like garlic? Add more.  Hate cilantro? Don't use it.  Vegan?  Ditch the cheese.  Want meat? Add some! There are so many variations that could be delicious, but here is what worked for me:  
Veggie Stuffed Peppers
(makes 3 servings)
~1 chopped tomato
~1-2 generous handfuls of spinach
~1 cup of canned (rinsed) or cooked black beans
~1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa or a combination of both
~1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
~1 clove of garlic or 1 tsp minced garlic (you can add more if you love your garlic)
~1 generous shake of dried cilantro flakes (hopefully fresh cilantro once this winter kicks it!)
~2 tsp cumin
~olive oil to grease a skillet
~3 bell peppers
Slice the tops off of the 3 bell peppers and remove the cores and seeds.  Set aside.  Generously coat a deep skillet or cast iron pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat.  Once heated, add the garlic.  Let the garlic simmer for 1-2 minutes and then add the chopped tomato and spinach.  Stir the vegetables so they evenly cook and get coated with the garlic and olive oil.  The tomatoes will soften and the spinach will significantly reduce in volume.  Add the black beans and stir.  Add the cilantro and cumin and stir some more (there will be a lot of stirring here!).  Add the cooked rice and/or quinoa and stir to mix completely with the vegetables.  Add 2/3 of the cheddar cheese and mix with the beans, rice/quinoa and vegetables.  Once completely mixed, remove from the heat. 
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon 1/3 of the rice/quinoa, beans and veggie mix into each of your 3 bell peppers.  Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the remaining 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese.  Lightly grease a shallow baking pan with olive oil.  Place the stuffed peppers into the pan and put the tops of the bell pepper back onto the pepper.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Serve with some organic white or blue corn tortilla chips and enjoy!  Filling, tasty & healthy!   
Served with sour cream and chunks of avocado!
I love adding spinach to stir fry dishes.  First,  spinach can go bad pretty quickly in the fridge so it is a great way to make sure you use it every week without hitting salad overload.  Spinach also drastically reduces in volume when cooked so it is easy to sneak that veggie into a recipe for an additional nutrition boost! 
As for quinoa and brown rice, I usually use a combination of the two.  One tip I find super helpful is to cook a big pot of the quinoa/brown rice combo when I am home and store it in the fridge so that there are healthy grains ready to go all week!  I have seen this tip many times over at Fannetastic Food in her amazing recipes and it truly does work.  On a rushed evening, I can quickly stir fry veggies, chicken and spices (such as Curry- yummy!) and serve over the rice/quinoa.  On a rushed morning, I can throw some rice/quinoa on top of a salad or in a wheat wrap with some veggies and Voila! Lunch!  I love tips like that...the trick is just staying organized with them!  Sometimes, the organization can be a challenge!   

Have a great Easter weekend! Plenty of cooking, baking and gathering to be going on over here this weekend!

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