Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers

This meatless wonder is so fresh and perfect for summer or fall when peppers are right in season.  I decided to stuff these guys with some herb seasoned quinoa followed by sauteed veggies topped with cheese.

Couscous Stuffing:
1 cup organic quinoa
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cups for couscous, reserve remaining
1 bay leaf
basil leafs, finely chopped
3 parsley sprigs, stems removed and finely chopped

sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Bring broth to a boil with bay leaf, add quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Toss in basil and parsley, fluff with a fork and set aside.  Preheat oven to 425.

Sauteed Veggies:
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6-8 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup quartered and sliced zucchini 
1 clove garlic
1 cup corn, scrapped off cob or if frozen, thawed and patted dry.
1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes, drained
Crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet.  Add mushrooms, zucchini and garlic to hot oil and saute for 5 minutes.  Until mushrooms and zucchini soften and begin to caramelize. Add corn and saute another couple minutes. Drain tomatoes and dump into veggies.  Using you spatula, cut the tomatoes into smaller bite-sized pieces as they sizzle for another minute.

Stuffed bell pepper:
4 large bell peppers (red, orange, yellow and green)
cut tops off peppers and scrap out seeds, reserve tops
fill peppers halfway with quinoa
sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided among all four peppers (opt.)
Pile sauteed veggies until overflowing
Top with shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese (opt.)
Pour remaining broth (about 1/2 cup) into the bottom of baking pan

Stand stuffed peppers upright in baking pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Then put the pepper's hats on (bell pepper tops) and bake for another 5 minutes.  Put one on each plate next to a whole wheat roll and enjoy!

*  Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is not a new concept.  That's how people have been eating for thousands of years.  They did so out of necessity and so should we.  I'm not saying that canned, frozen, or dried fruits and vegetable out of  season are bad.  I'm just saying fresh, in season, local produce is best, especially for where your health is concerned.
In an article by Lisa Turner in Delicious Living magazine entitled "Seasonal Eating" draws on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other holistic medicinal practices that claim our bodies need different fruits and vegetables in different seasons.  "For example, TCM associates springs with the liver-one of the body's primary detoxification organs."  Spring brings greens that help support the function of the liver.
Tuner goes on to quote Vaijayanti Apte, MS, founder of the Ayurveda Institute of America saying, "Eating cold uncooked foods during fall and winter can put stress on the body; it further chills you and takes extra energy to digest. 'However, in the summer, we eat more raw foods - so our homes and our bodies don't get overheated when its already hot.'" Tuner concludes, "Every season has a specific health focus, with seasonal foods and cooking methods that support the body during that time."
(April 2010, A Penton Publication)

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Melissa Moore has spent years researching and implementing nutritionally-based approaches to health and wellness. Her lifelong love of food and health evolved from a hobby to a passion when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.

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