Southwest Stuffed Peppers

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I didn’t realize how much I loved stuffed peppers until I started focusing on clean eating back in January. Here’s why they are awesome: they are decently easy to prep in advance, they reheat well, they easily function as a quick lunch!  Stuffed peppers create a complete meal in one veggie!  That’s why I included this meal as the first dinner in my recent Clean Eating, Clean Homes 5-day push!

I have recently become obsessed with all foods with a southwest influence.  I love beans and rice and cheese and spice, all guarantees when eating foods inspired by this region. For this recipe, though, I decided to sub out rice for quinoa. The change adds complete protein to the dish without compromising the taste or texture.  Combined with the right spices and fresh/freezer ingredients, these peppers have a little kick and a lot of protein.  

I am going to cut to the recipe quickly because I know you’re all dying to get to the store to buy the ingredients.  You won’t regret that choice!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

A clean, fiesta-fitting version of a household classic.

Ingredients

    • 3 large peppers
    • 1.25lb extra lean ground turkey
    • 1/4 C diced sweet onion
    • 1 C black beans
    • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 C salsa
    • 1 C chicken broth
    • 1 C dry quinoa (white, red, or a blend.  I used the Super Blend from Whole Foods)
    • Mexican cheese blend
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp chili powder

 

 

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Prep the peppers by washing, cutting in half, removing the seeds and stem, and placing open-side up in a greased glass baking dish.
  3. In a large saute pan, toss the onions in a tbsp olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the ground turkey.  Once it browns, add in the beans, corn, garlic, salsa, and half the broth.  Toss to combine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in the quinoa and seasonings and combine. Spoon into the peppers and top with cheese.
  5. Pour the remaining broth around the peppers.  
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Delicious–and no sides needed!

I’d love your feedback!  Please tell me your experience with this recipe or share your favorite stuffed peppers recipes!  I am always looking for new inspiration!

BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Bake

I have had this blog on my to-do list for about a week. I’ve actually had a lot of tasks on my to-do list for about a week.  It is that time of year: summer is ending and a new school year approaches. I am excited to meet my new students in exactly two weeks, but I still have to accomplish quite a bit before I’ll feel ready for my 11th year of teaching.  Wow.  Now I feel old.  Here is a look at some of the task to-be-accomplished in the coming weeks:

  • I need to lesson plan/create my calendars for September for my 5 different classes.
  • I need to set up my 3 classrooms.
  • I need to finish our One Book, One School text (Brothers Forever) and finalize my class discussions and assignments for it.
  • I need to meet with my new co-teacher (probably my favorite list item!) to lesson plan and brainstorm a great year.
  • I need to coordinate drop-offs, picks-ups, and childcare for all three children who, for the first time, will be attending three different schools/facilities.
  • I need to continue meal prep.

You read that right: meal prep.  I have been doing two or three simple meal prepping tasks a week to help me find success and ease this coming school year–especially during those chaotic mornings when five people and 2 dogs need to be settled for the day.

I’ve made batches of clean pancakes and muffins that are now sorted and in my freezer.  I’ve made an assortment of meatballs–traditional turkey, Kung Pao chicken, etc–that are portioned and frozen as well. And I’ve started experimenting with meals that can be made ahead or that yield abundant leftovers.

One such winner is this BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Bake.  It is a simple casserole filled with fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients. It is clean comfort food, so to speak, that will be perfect on a fall night when you long for a taste of summer but crave the warmth of a wholesome dinner.

What is quinoa? Quinoa is a grain discovered thousands of years ago by the Incas.  It has gained popularity recently because it is a complete protein, is higher in fiber than most other grains, and is naturally fortified with vitamins and minerals.  You can use it like you would rice or even oatmeal. My son and I even like it cooked and turned cold with milk–a deliciously filling cereal! It adds bulk to this casserole without adding empty calories.  You won’t need a large portion of this meal to not only feel full, but to reach your nutritional goals for the day.

I used a rotisserie chicken for this recipe.  I’ve become slightly obsessed with rotisserie chicken because it is so easily shredded and turned into awesome, easy meals.  You could easily throw chicken breasts in the crock pot and shred those if time allows!  Whatever you choose, this dish will not disappoint!

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BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Bake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A hearty, healthy one-dish dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked to package directions (makes about 3 cups)
  • 6 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth, plus more for baking if you prep ahead of time
  • 3/4 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Mexican cheese blend, as much as your little heart desires

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 9×13 in casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Prepare quinoa per package directions. While it boils, shred your chicken and dice your veggies.
  3. Once quinoa has cooked, spread it evenly throughout the baking dish.  Top with shredded chicken, then all of the veggies and beans.
  4. Pour the chicken broth evenly over the entire casserole. Give everything a gentle toss, then top with BBQ sauce and cheese.
  5. Bake for approx. 25 minutes.  Serve immediately!

Tell me what you think of the recipe and if you change it up in any way.  I may make it another time Hawaiian style, with pineapple!  This can easily be prepped on Sunday and baked a day or two later, just add more chicken broth to make sure the quinoa and chicken do not dry out.  Quinoa absorbs so much water!

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Quinoa Veggie Soup

I love soup. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize how much I love soup until I started raising a family.  Soups are hearty, easy meals or sides or bases for bigger dishes. Plus, homemade soups often translate into a busy mom’s favorite word: leftovers.

I can make a pot of soup on Sunday and have a dinner accompaniment for a few nights. I can knock out a quick soup for dinner and be sure my kids have hot thermoses ready for school lunch. Soup reheats easily and seems to grow its flavors the longer it sits.  What’s not to love?

As I embark on this clean journey and my husband even embraces our fresh-food lifestyle, I have had to let go of an old stand by.  You all know what I am talking about: canned soup.  While my pantry isn’t bare of it entirely, I am working my way to a canned-soup free home.  This easy recipe will make that a possibility.

My husband shuttered when I first said “quinoa” as if I used a four-letter word during a family game of Frozen Trouble. I assure you, though, any person who has enjoyed a barley soup in his or her lifetime will enjoy this soup.  It is flavorful, filling, and full of nutrients–and my five-year old daughter returns from kindergarten with an empty Hello Kitty thermos!

This recipe can easily be adapted to fit a vegetarian diet by substituting veggie broth for the chicken broth, and you can easily doctor it up with grilled chicken breast or tofu for even more protein.

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Quinoa Veggie Soup with grilled chicken and sauteed spinach

INGREDIENTS

4 cups organic low sodium chicken broth, plus an additional cup for reheating**

1 cup dry quinoa (I upped the ante and used Super Grains from Whole Food’s 365 brand)

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 small tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)

2 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup organic cannellini beans – no salt added

In a medium sauce pan, add the broth and quinoa.  (If your quinoa requires a pre-rinse, be sure you do that as well!)  Bring to a boil, then add the next four ingredients. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 15-20 min, or according to the quinoa directions.  During the last five minutes, slowly add in the spinach. Drain the beans and add those when the quinoa is cooked through.  Serve immediately.

**Quinoa absorbs liquid as it sits.  I keep an additional cup or so of broth on hand in case I need to add it to the soup when reheating leftovers.  Water will work as well, but it will dilute the overall flavor.

This soup alone is packed with protein, but it can be used as a side for grilled chicken or even grilled fish. Share in the comments below how you have played around with the recipe.