This weekend was filled with chicken sausages and potato salad.
This weekend was filled with a shared lunch at the Spotted Pig-the gargantuan burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries, and the poached eggs with corned beef hash.
There was a cappuccino to be had at the new cafe around the corner from me, Kuro Kuma.
I wanted to squeeze in a meal at the new ramen joint nearby, Jin Ramen, but my belly just could not budge any further.
Sometimes you just have to sit back and indulge yourself. Hey, at least I was eating healthy breakfasts all weekend: I had oatmeal one day and a banana almond smoothie the next. With some plums and nectarines to fill in the gaps. So sweet and ripe, they tasted like honey!
I’m balancing things out today with loads of summer vegetables and a healthy bean and grain combo.
Holy smokes, people, do you know how good red bell peppers are for you?
Red bell peppers rank very high in Vitamin C content, with 140 mg of Vitamin C per 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper. That’s higher than orange juice (75mg per 3/4 cup), broccoli (50mg per 1/2 cup), and strawberries (50mg per 1/2 cup).
The red color in bell peppers comes from natural plant pigments in the carotenoid family (specifically lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin). Lycopene is a carotenoid and an antioxidant that helps the body reduce the risk for certain types of cancer, and heart disease, in addition to helping lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. It is also great for protecting the tissues in your body and strengthening your immune system.
I won’t get into any more technical terms, but red bell peppers and red tomatoes pack quite the punch. Not to mention how good zucchini and corn and onion are for you. And you can be sure that the ever touted holy grail of grains, quinoa, is a steal when it comes to your health.
Once upon a time I lived in a big cooperative-living house. 2 people would cook dinner five or six nights a week for the whole house (~60 people). Stuffed peppers was an ever popular dish that was guaranteed to please a hungry household. So versatile, you could fill these gems with any kind of grain/veg./protein combo and never get bored. I was drifting down memory lane tonight while enjoying my pepper, prepared my favorite way…
The feta cheese holds its shape nicely under the oven heat, but once you pop a cube in your mouth, it just melts on the tongue into salty savory bliss. And I love how the quinoa gets slightly crunchy on top after being in the oven. Ugh, so good.
Stuffed Peppers with quinoa, feta & summer veggies
adapted from SmittenKitchen
1 cup dry quinoa
bell peppers (I used 3 peppers, but still had some quinoa salad left over, which I was happy about)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
2 ears of corn, shaved off the cob
1-2 medium zucchini or summer squash
3 tablespoons tomato paste*** see note
1 cup halved cherry/grape tomatoes
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz of feta, chopped
seasonings: salt, pepper, dry oregano (maybe 1/2 teaspoon), fresh basil (to taste)
1. Rinse the quinoa. Add the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a small pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it go for about 12-15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked (should be light and fluffy with all of the water absorbed). Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Halve the bell peppers and take out the seeds and membrane (I like to keep the green stem for aesthetics). Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the pepper halves face up on the sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the peppers start to soften slightly. Take the peppers out of the oven and let them sit while you prepare the filling.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, corn, and zucchini. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the veggies start to soften slightly. Add some seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs) to taste.
4. Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and tomato paste to the veggie mixture. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa to the mix (save the remaining quinoa for another use i.e. muffins?!). Toss in the feta cheese.
5. Fill the pepper halves with heaping amounts of the quinoa mixture. It is ok to have some leftover mixture for nibbling on later in the week. Bake the filled peppers for another 15 minutes. Enjoy!
***Note: Don’t you just hate opening up a can of tomato paste only to use a mere few tablespoons worth? Me, too. A great tip from registered dietitian Jackie Newgent is to freeze leftover tomato paste (wrap it in a cylinder in saran) and slice it off as needed. Preventing waste in the kitchen. Love it!