If you are close to my age (almost
35… cough 58), you may have eaten stuffed bell peppers as a kid. Like me, you probably avoided 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.
At my mature age, I like green, red, yellow or orange 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 to me!
If you don’t like the bell pepper in this recipe, save it for someone who does! My daughter Cynthia actually lets out a squeal when I invite her over for stuffed bell peppers. At 30, 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 with Tillamook cheese grated on top, until bubbly. Hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane…and these Stuffed Bell Peppers!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 4-5 medium green or multi-colored peppers
- chopped bell pepper (from tops)
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 1 medium onion
- 1 lb ground turkey (or hamburger)
- 1 can corn (or 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh)
- 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
- A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 T sugar (optional)
- 5-6 cups white or brown rice
Prepare peppers by washing, coring and cutting them in half. (I use half to make them go further unless it’s a smaller pepper). If the pepper is leaning right or left, I just whack off part of the bottom so they sit nice and straight. It doesn’t seem to matter since the stuffing 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 the pepper tops (minus the stem), 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 corn and continue to sauté until meat is cooked and the veggies are soft. Add the corn, 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 (as pictured below). Drizzle a little ketchup on the peppers and rice in a zigzag motion.
Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes or until warm and bubbly. Serve with a side salad.
- Use whatever type of cheddar cheese you prefer. Tillamook just happens to be my favorite although it is more expensive.
- I add ketchup because my mother did. Along with the extra sugar, it helps cut the tomato sauce acidity. Use according to your preference, taste and health considerations. My BBQ Sauce recipe would also be good!
- 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 but the medical community does not agree. When I check labels, it seems that HFCS is added to everything…not just processed (junk) foods and soda which are terrible for us, but things like salad dressing and condiments too.
- The Mayo Clinic has this to say on the topic. Dr. Mark Hyman shares his opinions in this article entitled “The 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You” and this one is 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: red ripe tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and a special blend of spices and flavorings. Sounds pretty ‘simple’ to me!