A truly healthy dinner…

I keep falling more and more in love with quinoa. It really is an amazing little food.  I always want to refer to it as a grain, which it absolutely is not. Thank you wikipedia for clearing that up for me.  You can do your homework here if you are interested : quinoa

Another meal I can’t really remember eating while growing up was stuffed bell peppers.  My mom maybe made them occasionally, but I think I always strayed away, have a fear of red and orange vegetables.

Luckily that fear is gone, and I have completely embraced the notion of stuffing bell peppers. Since I’m not really a huge fan of rice, quinoa came to mind as the absolute perfect pepper stuffer.  And with that, quinoa stuffed bell peppers was born.  It makes for a nice healthy meal… nevermind the bowl of homemade banana pudding I ate afterwards.  Oops.

Here is my recipe:

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock or water
1 tbsp (or so) olive oil
4 bell peppers (any color)
1 Medium size onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ green bell pepper
3/4 lb ground turkey meat
3 tsp Italian seasoning
8 – 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces  tomato sauce (homemade or bottle)
Handful Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350

Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups chicken stock

Chop onion, green bell pepper, and garlic. Saute in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add in ground turkey, spices, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper. Brown meat (about 6 minutes or so). Once meat is brown, add in  tomato sauce, cheese, and about half of the cooked quinoa and mix together. I reserved the other half of the quinoa to save for making salads, but if you don’t want extra, then I would say cook about ½ cup of dry quinoa in 1 cup chicken stock.

For the bell peppers you are stuffing, chop off the top and clean out the inside to remove any seeds.

While the meat is browning, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once water is boiling, submerge all but the tops of the bell peppers in the water. Let sit in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove with tongs. This will darken their color and also soften up the outside quite a bit. Sprinkle bell pepper with a little salt and pepper.

Stuff meat mixture into the bell peppers. Place in a pyrex dish (8 by 8 works fine, or any size you have on hand). Fill the pyrex up about 1/8 of an inch with water so that the bottom of the bell peppers will be sitting in the water. Sprinkle cheese on top of the stuffed peppers. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes.

I loved this recipe… everything about it. The meal was, first and foremost, tasty, but also very healthy and filling.  Wes also loved it, so it gets the man stamp of approval. It will definitely be finding its way into my dinner rotation. I also think it would be fun to put a mexican spin on it next time, using more mexican seasonings, adding in some corn and black beans, and finishing it off with the perfect tomatillo salsa.  My mouth is watering already.  Please give this recipe a try; you will love it!

**This recipe is a finalist in the Aetna Healthy Food Fight where I will compete for $10,000.  I won Dallas regionals and compete on Dec 2, 2011 in NYC!!**

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