If you are close to my age (cough…almost 55), you may have eaten stuffed bell peppers as a kid. Like me, you probably tried to avoid eating the actual green pepper though. Mom insisted, so with a glass of water near-by, you took a bite and then washed it down trying not to gag. Keeping your eye on the reward (a nice bowl of green jello with pineapple and bananas), you forged ahead with a mouthful of grossness and a forced smile. Or perhaps you slipped your pepper to the dog under the table, when no-one was looking. That plan may have back-fired a few hours later when something unmentionable appeared in the hallway upstairs.
Now it’s 2016 and I like green bell peppers, cooked or raw. Each pepper has 24 calories, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar and 1 milligram of protein. Protein? Now that one surprised me. One medium green pepper has more vitamin C than a medium orange. Who knew? They’re also a good source of vitamins K, B6 and A with a small amount of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. Not sure about that last one, but the rest sound good…
If you don’t like the bell pepper in this recipe, save it for someone who does! My daughter Cynthia actually let out a squeal when she heard what we were having for dinner tonight. At 26, her palette must be more sophisticated than the men in my family. Lucky for them, I always have plenty of rice stuffing left over, which I bake until bubbling with Tillamook cheese grated on top. Hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane…
Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe
- 4-5 medium green bell peppers
- 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 lg clove garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato sauce
- ½ cup ketchup plus more for drizzling*
- 1 tsp garlic granules, onion powder & salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ – ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 T sugar*
- 5-6 cups white or brown rice
Prepare peppers by washing, coring and cutting them in half. I use half to make the them go further since they can be pricy. I don’t worry about the hole in the top half because when it’s turned over and set in the baking dish, the stuffing just stays put. Place peppers in a microwave safe dish with a little water in the bottom. Microwave for 12 minutes before stuffing; this ensures the peppers are cooked through completely after being stuffed and baked.
Chop about ½ of a bell pepper, the garlic clove and onion. Put the meat in a deep-frying pan on medium heat. Add the chopped pepper, garlic and onion. Crumble the meat as it cooks with a spatula. Toss in the frozen corn and continue to sauté until meat is cooked and the veggies are soft. Add the can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, spices and sugar*. Stir and simmer until warm and bubbly. Add pre-cooked rice and combine (I used 5½ cups and it was nice and saucy).
Scoop the rice mixture into the prepared peppers. Add extra rice to the same dish or a separate one. Drizzle a little ketchup on the peppers and rice in a zigzag motion.
Top with 1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I love Tillamook). Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes or until warm and bubbling. Serve with a side salad.
*I add the ketchup because my mother did. Along with the extra sugar, it helps to cut the tomato sauce acidity. Use according to your preference, taste and health considerations.
Liz Note on Ketchup: For years now I’ve been avoiding foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which has been touted as the leading cause of obesity and diabetes in this country. Recently some controversy has arisen about HFCS being no less harmful that table sugar. HFCS is added to processed (junk) foods and soda which are terrible for us anyway. The Mayo Clinic has this to say on the topic. And Dr. Mark Hyman shares his opinions in this article entitled “The 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You” and this one featured on the Huffington Post. Anything we can do to reduce processed foods, unknown chemicals and HFCS/sugar in our diet is good for weight control and our overall good health. For my family, I choose “Simply Heinz” ketchup…the ingredients are simply: red ripe tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and a special blend of spices and flavorings.
Source for green bell pepper nutrition: http://www.livestrong.com/article/40972-green-pepper-nutrition-information/