Nutrient-packed stuffed peppers

Hopefully your mouth is watering just looking this picture because it's hard for me to describe the deliciousness of these stuffed peppers. 

Peppers are nutritional powerhouses. They are excellent sources of vitamin A, C and B6 and potassium and a good source of folic acid and fiber. One large pepper has 33 calories, 287 mg of potassium, 2.8g of fiber and 1.4g protein.
Every time you eat a pepper, you are filling your body with phytochemicals, antioxidants and they help reduce inflammation with their anti-inflammatory benefits.
They also give a great flavor to both raw and cooked dishes.
Fruits and veggies in general are great for the immune system.
For athletes, opting for cooked veggies at dinner (versus raw, which would be ideal at lunch) can help with digestion so that you aren't expending a huge amount of energy trying to digest a lot of roughage after an evening workout or late at night before you go to bed (and wake-up for an early morning workout).
Plus, cooking veggies will allow you to eat a lot more variety and volume in one sitting versus raw.
(Although Karel's raw chopped salad that he made the other day packed a lot of ingredients!)

Cooking produce is shown to reduce the vitamin and mineral content, but you shouldn't avoid eating cooked veggies just because of this statement. Compared to other foods, vegetables pack a lot of great nutrients so even if some of those nutrients are destroyed in cooking, you are still providing your body with more nutrients than if you didn't eat veggies or opted for something more unnatural or heavily processed. Also, in terms of steaming and boiling some veggies like tomatoes and carrots, you may end up with more vitamins and minerals than if consumed raw.

Consider making my delicious stuffed peppers for dinner and be sure to plan for leftovers. Enjoy your extra stuffed pepper (chopped up) in a homemade soup or in an egg scramble for breakfast the next day. 


Ingredients(for 2 people)

Red pepper (1 per person - or plan 1 more for leftovers)
Zucchini - 1 large
Mushrooms (1 large container - sliced)
Garlic (2 large cloves - more if you love garlic)
Onion - 1 small (chopped)
Eggplant - 1 small/medium (cubed)
Barley - or grain/rice of your choice - cooked
Olive oil - 1+ tbsp (as needed)
Protein - chicken or ground beef or tempeh, edamame, crumbled tofu or vegetarian "meat" crumbles
Marinara Sauce - 1 jar (or you can make your own with basil and chopped roasted canned tomatoes)
Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. While oven is heating, cook zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, onion and eggplant in a skillet with olive oil until soft. Cook on medium to low heat. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. You can also add any other herbs/spices that you like.
(Your grain/rice should already be cooked at this time)
3. Use a knife to remove the top of the pepper and remove any seeds from the inside. Use a spoon to scoop the inside to make room for your stuffing.
(If you accidentally slice your pepper open so you can't stuff it - don't stress. I've done this before. Just chop your pepper and make a stir-fry dish and try again when you have more peppers :)
4. Pour your marinara sauce in a casserole dish which is large enough to hold your peppers. Fill about 1/4-1/3 with sauce. Add cooked grain/rice to the sauce and stir to combine. This will be your "stew" to enjoy with your pepper.
5. Place your pepper in the stew.
6. From the stew, spoon 2-3 spoonfuls into your pepper just to fill the bottom of the pepper. Now take your veggie mixture from the skillet and stuff your pepper as much as possible - it's ok if it overflows.
7. Add the extra veggie mixture to the casserole stew and cook for 40-50 minutes. 
8. Remove pepper from oven, top with cheese. Serve with your choice of protein (you can also add your protein to the inside of the pepper or in the stew)
9. Yum!