Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (Giuseppe Peppers)

I was recently reminded by the always entertaining app “timehop” of a photo I took a year ago.   This was it:

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The caption read:

Dinner–quinoa, chicken sausage, tomato and mushroom stuffed pepper.  My goal was to clean out the fridge–mission accomplished.

I remember this moment.  It was the last bit of animal protein I had left in my fridge and the last time I cooked meat.

At that time, I had recommended some health related reading material to a friend for her and her family and she jumped right into reading it.  I myself hadn’t even read it, and when she sat down to talk to me about it, I felt like a hypocrite.  Immediately after that lunch date, I began reading it.

The book, Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman, was originally recommended by a PBS special (oh the wonder of public television and it’s educational purposes) after I had a medical situation arise that made me realize my health wasn’t always going to be a guarantee.  I was going to need to ensure that through healthy choices, exercise, and overall happy living.  I made a conscious choice to choose me, to choose my health, and to become educated about what that meant for me.  That meant, a whole-food plant based lifestyle.

Let food be thy medicine.

I don’t use terms like “clean-eating” or “vegan” on the regular in my writing, because I feel like whole-food plant based can be very different from those definitions of eating.  For example, an Oreo is considered vegan.  Or free-range organic chicken can be “clean.”   Instead, I strive to pack my life full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and beans.  Don’t you worry though, I still get plenty of protein.  On average, people actually consume TOO much protein.   I am always asked “but aren’t you worried you won’t get enough protein?” Truth is, I thought the same at first, but ever since switching to cooking whole-food plant based I started wondering why I hadn’t been worried before about things like, “am I getting enough of these vitamins, or enough fiber, or enough antioxidant rich foods?”

I love the way that I feel now that I concentrate mostly on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits etc.  And, not to mention the added benefit of knowing that I am doing something good for the environment (but we’ll save that for another day.)

You may wonder if Ian is whole-food plant based as well.  I will say that, when it comes to home cooking, yes.  When it comes to eating out, anything goes.  I am usually pretty surprised about how his choices have changed even when we go out.  We are now enjoying vegetarian options that we had never even considered before.  It has opened our minds to a whole new world of recipes and dishes.

Of course I don’t expect everyone to read this and suddenly want to take up the same lifestyle.  I do encourage you to try “meatless monday” or “weekday vegetarian” and see how you like it!

If you’re looking for some inspiration, feel free to comment and follow me on instagram or on facebook.  I would love to hear from you.

Here is a list of my favorite materials on the subject:

Forks Over Knives (netflix documentary, book, cookbook, and iphone app)
Dr. Fuhrman “Eat to Live” (coined the phrase “nutritatian”)
Dr. Esselstyn
Engine 2 Diet (Books, cookbooks, 21 day challenge, and products)
The China Study
Oh She Glows (blog and cookbook)

Anyhow, after being reminded of that last meal I had made, I decided to make it again.  This time “just with veggies,” or as my mom overheard on the phone “Giuseppe”

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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (or Giuseppe Peppers)

Makes 4-6 halves (serves 4-6 depending on hunger level :) )
Created by Elyse M.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 bell peppers (halved and seeds removed)
  • yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 5 oz of baby bella mushrooms (or other button type)
  • two large handfuls of spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 15 oz can of Diced Tomatoes*
  • 1 cup garbanzo (chickpeas) beans (throw leftover beans on your salads if using canned)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (in vegetable broth, and save any leftovers for salads)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Optional: red pepper flakes for a kick

* If you would rather buy diced tomatoes packed in Italian herbs and spices, that will also likely work well.  Just omit the final 4 spices.

Directions:

  1. Cook Quinoa in vegetable broth according to package instructions if you don’t have some prepared already.  2 cups cooked would be about 1/2 cup dry.  Don’t be afraid to make too much.   I started with 1 cup dry and used leftovers on salads.
  2. Place peppers cut side down in a pan with water.  They don’t need to be submerged.  Steam until cooked (somewhat soft)*
  3. Meanwhile in another pan cook onion (in water, adding more water if necessary) and garlic until onion is translucent.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes
  5. Add spinach until wilted
  6. Add tomatoes, garbanzo beans, quinoa and spices and let simmer for 10 min (or until fragrant and all the flavors come together)
  7. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  8. Fill peppers with the filling and top with nutritional yeast (or faux parmesan) if avoiding dairy, or top with a small sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

*My mom cooks the peppers in tomato sauce for added flavor when she makes stuffed peppers.  Worth a try!

A little Giuseppe Verdi in honor of the recipe name: The Quartet from Rigoletto

As an added bonus I have chosen the recording with my CMU voice teacher, Mildred Miller.  She recently turned 90!  Happy Birthday!

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