I remember when quinoa was both hard to find and hard to pronounce. These days, we can find it in nearly every grocery store. I’ve even been able to find a variety of types in several of my local markets. My choices are the regular, the red and the rainbow varieties. The red quinoa seems to have the heartiest flavor. The rainbow variety is perfect served hot and mixed with vegetables and herbs, and the plain is my favorite for a light summer salad. Feel free to use any variety in the following recipe. Though I usually stuff my peppers with red quinoa, this time I chose the rainbow. It was equally delicious.
As far as pronouncing it correctly, even that has improved. Now and then, however, I do still hear people pronounce it with the Q-sound. No matter how they say it, quinoa is versatile and a quick, easy-to-prepare whole grain boasting fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and phytochemical disease-fighters.
4 bell peppers, use a variety of colors
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
6 baby bella mushrooms or other medium-sized mushrooms, sliced
1 10-ounce package cooked frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 cup low-sodium pasta sauce, tomato basil or other favorite variety, divided
¼ tsp black pepper
4 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and discard the seeds and membranes. Place peppers cut-side down, single-layer in a large microwave-safe casserole dish or plate. Cover with a lid or wax paper. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to soften the peppers. Remove the peppers and dry the casserole dish and return the peppers to it or move the peppers to a fresh oven-safe pan.
2. Meanwhile heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and sauté until the vegetables are soft. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the spinach. Mix. Then add the cooked quinoa, garbanzo beans, ½-cup pasta sauce, and black pepper.
3. Fill each half pepper with 1/8 quinoa mixture and top with the remaining pasta sauce.
4. Cover. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese. Broil 2 – 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Yield: 8 stuffed pepper halves
Serving Size: 2 halves
Exchanges/Choices: 2 Starch, 1 Meat, 3 Vegetable, 1 Fat
Total Fat: 9
Saturated Fat: 2
Trans Fat: 0
Total Carbohydrate: 50
Dietary Fiber: 11
This recipe comes from Jill Weisenberger’s newest book, Diabetes Weight Loss–Week by Week, published by the American Diabetes Association (2012). It can be purchased online at www.shopdiabetes.org or at any of your local bookstores.
Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E. is a food, nutrition and diabetes expert living in SE Virginia. She is a nutrition consultant, a freelance health and nutrition writer and the author of Diabetes Weight Loss–Week by Week. Visit her at www.jillweisenberger.com.