Stuffed Bell Peppers

Vegetables are very healthy for you, but if you make them into a casserole and add butter, cheese, and sodium-enriched soups, you’ve added an “un” in front of the word “healthy” = “Unhealthy!” That’s not to say vegetable casseroles are not tasty…. they’ve got lots of flavor and can be one of my favorite recipes (for example: Corn Casserole.)

This Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine, and has only 312 calories and 9.8g of fat…quite “healthy” I might add.  You’ve get a whopping 27g of protein from the ground sirloin, and a good source of Vitamins A and C in the pepper. Part-skim Mozzarella cheese also has positive health benefits.  It is a good source of protein, which is important for energy and muscle maintenance.   In addition, the calcium in this cheese helps in weight loss and provides protection against breast cancer and metabolic syndrome.

What is not to like about Stuffed Bell Peppers now?  The meat is also nicely flavored with Italian seasoning and a cup of tomato-basil pasta sauce of your choice.  Feel free to substitute red, yellow, or orange bell peppers for green.  Green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than the red, yellow, and orange ones.  In addition, red peppers contain 2-3 times as much Vitamin C as the green variety.  Maybe that is why they are so much more expensive! Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

2 large green bell peppers (about 10 ounces each)
3/4 pound ground sirloin
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (8.8 ounce) package precooked whole-grain brown rice (such as Uncle Ben’s) or cook your own
1 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce (such as Classico)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1.  Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise;  discard seeds and membrane.  Precook green pepper cups in boiling salted water about 5 minutes;  drain.  (Or microwave at HIGH for 6 to 7 minutes.)  (For crisp peppers, omit precooking.) 
2.  While bell peppers cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Cook beef and onion until browned, stirring to crumble beef.  Drain, if necessary, and return to pan.  Stir in Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp. salt, pepper, rice and pasta sauce.  Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until warm, stirring occasionally.
3.  Fill bell pepper halves with beef mixture;  sprinkle evenly with cheese  Place in baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. (or microwave at HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts.)  
Calories: 312, Fat: 9.8g, Protein: 27.4g, Carb: 29.9g, Fiber: 4.1g 
Yield: 4 servings (serving size:  1/2 pepper)
Cooking Light Magazine

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