O.k., the holidays are behind us and it’s time to get back to our normal schedule over here. Also, back to eating our healthy foods. No more vegan cream puffs for breakfast! (yep, I did that) I have to admit, I did over indulge during the holidays and mostly on the sweet stuff. Well, now it’s time to get down to business and I’ve decided to get back into the gym after a 4 month hiatus. I’ve been so busy with the blog and being a mom, that I left my body on the back burner. That’s never a good idea. Well this year, I’m making my body a priority and I will be in tip-top shape. I know New Years resolutions are broken easily, but I’m pretty good at sticking to them. Especially, because I publicly announced it! Anyone else have a resolution that they’re working on?
A lot of people want to eat healthier as their New Years resolution, but they quickly give up because they are eating boring food. You don’t have to give up the fun, just to be healthy. You can have your cake and eat it, too. Well, maybe just a slice 😉 One of the reasons I started this blog, was to show people that healthy food can be flavorful and delicious. You can easily turn over a new leaf, if you find the right recipes for you. To get started, It’s a good idea to pick 5-6 healthy meals and keep them in your recipe collection. Over time, your healthy recipe arsenal will really start to grow. You will learn a whole new way of preparing food, without leaving the yumminess behind.
You can certainly have a healthy fiesta with these colorful, protein-packed, Santa Fe-style, stuffed sweet peppers with bubbly gooey cheese (that’s a tongue twister). They’re so filling, hearty and delicious! Did I mention that this meal is gluten-free? This recipe is a must try for all. These beauties have tons of flavor and make a beautiful presentation. I chose a combination of red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers. The colors are gorgeous! For the filling, I used meaty mushrooms, black-eyed peas, quinoa, carrots, onions, fresh garlic, warm spices and I simmered in vegetable broth. I stuffed the peppers and covered them with “cheese” and I roasted them to perfection! If you would like to save a few steps, you can just omit the cheese. They taste just as delicious without it (See photo below). You can also use a stretchy store-bought vegan cheese.
Roasted peppers are so versatile and can be stuffed with all types of veggies, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices and whole grains. Just pick your favorites and go for it! It’s almost impossible to mess up. It doesn’t look like it, but they’re also quite filling. One pepper is definitely enough to satisfy a hungry tummy. I tried to eat two, but I didn’t make it. You can always side it with a salad or steamed veggies, if you want something more with it.
Alright, let’s get this fiesta started!
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush a little oil inside each pepper. Then sprinkle them with salt and fresh ground pepper. Place, cut-side down, in a 9-x-13" baking dish. (line dish with parchment paper) Roast until peppers are slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a medium pot, cook the quinoa with 1 cup of water. (add a pinch of salt to the water) This usually takes about 15 minutes. Set aside
- Heat oil in a large skillet, over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add carrots and sauté until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and mushrooms, cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes
- Add the spices, and stir well to combine. Now, add the cooked quinoa, beans and corn. Stir in the vegetable broth, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Combine well. (taste for more salt or pepper) Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Now is a good time to prepare the cheese. Drain cashews and discard water. Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Now, pour mixture into a small pot and place over medium heat. Stir often, so it doesn’t stick or burn. Scrape the sides and bottom, as needed. The cheese will start to thicken up. Place heat on medium-low. When it becomes stretchy and thick, remove from heat. This whole process should take about five minutes.
- Divide stuffing mixture evenly among bell peppers, gently packing it down and making sure to fully fill each pepper. (If you have decided to choose the cheese option, spoon a dollop of cheese on top of each stuffed pepper) Now, place reserved tops on each pepper and arrange them upright in 9-x-13" baking dish. (line dish with parchment paper). Bake until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.
Top with fresh-cut cilantro or parsley. If you have stuffing left over, you can save it for lettuce wraps, a breakfast side or just eat it as is. It's delicious!
*Cheese adapted from Vedged Out