I am always looking for new ways to stuff a pepper. I grew up eating stuffed peppers. My mom packed them with ground beef, onions, rice and tomato sauce. In my pursuit of always wanting to add more nutritional value, today I am going to use lentils instead of meat. Lentils not only add a hearty texture, but they are jam-packed with goodness for your body — for a mere 70 calories in a 1/4 cup (dry), you get 9 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. Translation: Better appetite control and blood sugar stability over a longer haul, which bodes well for waistline management!
It all starts with colorful sweet bell peppers. If you can get them organically grown, please do – but always scrub and rinse with cold water before diving into them anyway. Simple lop off the cap and gently pull out the membrane and scoop out the seeds. (If you leave a few seeds behind, it’s not the worst thing as these seeds are not hot.) Peppers are nutrition powerhouses filled with vitamin C for good-looking skin, vitamin A for healthy cells and potassium for healthy blood pressure levels.
For the stuffing, just grab some dried lentils in a bag; rinse in cold water and drain them to get off any loose debris. Add them to a pot with low-sodium broth and bring to a boil and then simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. It’s that simple. I decided to toss in some fresh rosemary – just taking a whiff of it and I am immediately transported to an open field on a warm spring day! And it’s no wonder as rosemary is a member of the fragrant mint family. Rosemary holds it own as far as healthy benefits, too – it contains a ton of antioxidants, as well as fends off bacterial growth – thus, it’s used as a preservative in foods.
In addition, I toss in some diced white button mushrooms, shallots and garlic for flavor, texture and aroma. So this ranks high on my olfactory scale. . . (of course, we all smell differently, but aromas make the food so much more appealing!) Finally, spoon in some fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika to round it out – and of course add some additional umami into the mix.
3 large bell peppers, washed, seeded and membranes removed
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 15 oz, can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 heaping Tablespoon smoked paprika
Parmesan cheese shavings (optional for topping)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare peppers by cutting off the cap and taking out membranes and seeds. Set aside in a baking dish.
In a medium pot, add lentils and broth. Bring to a boil and then lower heat, simmer and cover. Allow lentils to absorb the liquid; stir occasionally.
In a small saute pan over medium-low heat, add oil, garlic, shallots, mushroom and rosemary. Stir together until heated through and shallots are translucent. Add to cooked lentils. Gently stir. Pour in tomatoes and mix well. Heat mixture through. Take off heat. Spoon mixture into each of the hallowed out peppers. Place in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until peppers begin to brown. Remove from oven and top with shaved parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information (per one stuffed pepper with cheese): Calories: 380, Total Fat: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 4 mg, Sodium: 583 mg, Carbohydrates: 59 g, Dietary Fiber: 25 g, Sugars: 13 g, Protein: 22 g
Enjoy eating simply,