When I first started trying to eat healthier I found myself at a loss of healthy meals that I found filling and well balanced. I became a vegetarian about 16 years ago. I thought that it would help me lose weight. Boy was I wrong! My diet consisted of pasta, cheese and bread. Vegetables were not something that I loved or even liked. I became huge!!! I lost weight in my early 20s, but I was in the percentage of people who gain weight back in the first five years and then some.
When I joined Weight Watchers I was given a certain amount of points I could eat in a day and fruits and vegetables are free. I have come to embrace vegetables and experiment with all kinds of whole grains and other things that were outside of my comfort cooking zone. Quinoa was something that I was unfamiliar, but not unwilling to try. Quinoa is a seed that is cooked like a grain. It is versatile and can be eaten savory or sweet. The deli department at work made stuffed peppers and the smell got me craving some. I tried to make them healthy and delicious. Have a look:
Quinoa has a bitter coating on the outside of it. The powder acts as a natural pesticide. To get rid of the coating I simply rinsed the quinoa under water. I also rinsed black beans for later use in the filling.
In a heavy bottom pan I sauteed mushrooms, onions and jalapeno. I then added the black beans and brown rice.
While the filling was cooking I spooned some of my homemade marinara sauce into a 9x13 casserole. I then added 1/4 C. of Parmesan cheese to the filling.
After tasting the filling I felt that it was missing some acidity. In the pantry I found whole canned tomatoes. I used kitchen shears and cut them into pieces directly in the can. I added it to the filling and then one cup of cooked quinoa.
I then halved bell peppers and stuffed them with the filling. I lined the baking sheet with the peppers and sprinkled them with more Parmesan cheese.
I baked them covered in at 357˚F oven for 40 minutes and then uncovered for about 15 minutes. They were very delicious, healthy and filling. I am taking some to work tomorrow for my coworker and I to enjoy for lunch.
I have lost 50 lbs since starting a healthier lifestyle (cliche I know) and I feel as though I have totally renovated and expanded my tastebuds and cooking. I look for any opportunity to stuff vegetables into whatever I cook and as far as Weight Watchers I try and get as much bang for my buck as possible. I do not like to waste Points on empty calories and processed foods. I prefer real and fresh ingredients that are made from real food and not chemicals.
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