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April 10, 2011

Yesterday was the day I finally moved my run from the treadmill to outside and boy, was it nice.  I’m lucky enough to live very close to the Illinois Prairie Path, which was the first U.S. rails-to-trails conversion in the nation in the 1960’s, so my run is on a beautifully maintained, crushed limestone path.  Moving from the treadmill to the path each year always makes me a little nervous because everything from the weather to the terrain is out of my control.  Because I have my first 5K of the year coming up on Saturday and the weather was beautiful this weekend, it was time to hit the path again.  The joy wasn’t just in getting through the run feeling really strong, but in seeing the unfolding of spring along the way.  There were daffodils and hyacinth in bloom, the trees were starting to bud and the grass was getting green.  From the path I’m able to view the transition from winter to spring with a front row seat. 

When I made the decision to give up eating meat there was some fear about the transition and finding new ways to cook, using ingredients I’d never used before.  Quinoa is one of those ingredients that was new to me a year ago and has now become a staple in my cooking.  Quinoa is often mistaken as a grain but it’s really a seed and the plant is grown primarily for the harvest of the quinoa seed.  It has a high protein content (12-18%), is a good source of dietary fiber and is gluten free.  What’s not to like about that?

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
adapted from Clean Eating Magazine – February, 2011
Serves 2

Stuffed Peppers
2 bell peppers, halved and seeded, stems intact
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups fresh spinach (lightly packed)
1 medium tomoto, diced

2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed
 1 clove garlic
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp water

Broil or grill the pepper halves for about 10 minutes or until they start to soften, then set aside.

Combine the quinoa and vegetable broth in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.  While the quinoa is cooking, give the spinach a rough chop and dice the tomato.  When the all of the broth has been absorbed by the quinoa, add the chopped spinach to the pot, mixing well and allowing the heat to wilt the greens.  When the spinach is wilted, add the diced tomato and stir to combine everything.

To prepare the pesto, add everything but the water to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the spinach is finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse again, 4 to 5 times.  Add water, one tablespoon at a time, as needed, to thin the pest.

To serve, stuff the pepper halves with the quinoa mixture and top with the pesto or serve it on the side as I did.

(The nutritional info and WW Points Plus points represent two servings for this meal.  I found the pesto to really make 4-5 servings.  If you don’t use it all on the peppers, add the remaining to cooked pasta the next day for a simple meal or side dish.)

Nutritional Information per serving:

Stuffed Peppers
Weight Watchers PointsPlus:  6
Calories:  231
Fat:  3.4 grams
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium:  79.5 mg
Carbohydrates:  43.9 grams
Fiber:  7.3 grams
Protein:  8.9 grams

Spinach Pesto
Weight Watchers PointsPlus:  3
Calories:  115
Fat:  10.9 grams
Cholesterol:  3.0 grams
Sodium:  97.9 mg
Carbohydrates:  2.3 grams
Fiber:  .9 grams
Protein:  3.6 grams

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2011 12:36 pm

    These look so great!

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