Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers…A Healthy Spin on an Old Favorite!

I love Mexican food….the cheesier and spicier the better but usually it also is loaded with tons of calories and lots of fat.  Being that the New Year brings all kinds of new resolutions (sometimes the same ones every year…ha, ha), like eating better and doing more exercise, I thought I would make my first blog of 2015 about a healthier version of an old favorite….Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers!

This recipe comes from Clean Eating Magazine and has everything you are looking for in a healthy Mexican dish.  It is heavy on the fiber, light on the fat, and is still packed with savory beans and meat.  My only addition was to add a little hot sauce (you know I love that spicy kick) and I added a little shredded low-fat cheese on the top because it’s just not Mexican without a little cheese! 

Clean Eating Magazine's Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers
Clean Eating Magazine’s Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red and/or green bell peppers
  • 1 1/2 tsp safflower or olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz BPA-free can unsalted black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (or more if you like it!), optional
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Reduced Fat Mexican Cheese (I used Sargento’s), optional
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F. With a paring knife, carefully trim bottoms of peppers so they stand upright; do not cut through flesh. Slice off tops and remove and discard stems; finely chop tops and set aside.  Carefully insert a paring knife into cavities of peppers and trim away seeds and membranes from insides.

 

Peppers are prepped for steaming
Peppers are prepped for steaming

 

Chop up the tops so you use all the pepper and don't waste a bit
Chop up the tops so you use all the pepper and don’t waste a bit

Wrap each pepper in foil and arrange upright in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake until slightly softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from foil and set aside until cooled slightly. Reduce oven heat to 350˚F.

Peppers have been steamed in the foil and are ready to stuff
Peppers have been steamed in the foil and are ready to stuff

Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1 tsp oil on medium. Add beef and sauté, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove beef from skillet, cover and set aside; keep skillet on medium heat.

Meat is browned and put aside while we work on the chopped peppers
Meat is browned and put aside while we work on the chopped peppers

To skillet, add reserved chopped pepper tops, onion, cumin, coriander, salt and chile powder. Sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. (Note:  I sauted mine for about 8 minutes because I like them a little more softened).  Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.

Chopped Peppers are going into the skillet along with the onion, coriander, salt and chili powder
Chopped Peppers are going into the skillet along with the onion, coriander, salt, chili powder, and garlic

Stir in beans, corn, tomato paste, lime juice and beef. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 5 to 6 more minutes.  (Note:  I prefer the flavors to meld just a little longer so I chose to let this simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes on low.)

The ground beef along with the remaining ingredients are added to the pan
The ground beef along with the remaining ingredients are added to the pan

Brush bottom of 8-inch square baking dish with remaining 1/2 tsp oil. Stand peppers cavity side up in dish. Spoon beef mixture into peppers, packing tightly.

Peppers ready to go in the oven
Peppers ready to go in the oven

Cover with foil and bake until peppers are tender and filling is heated through, about 35 minutes. 

If desired, uncover the peppers and drizzle the cheese on top of each one and pop back into the oven until cheese is melted (just a couple of minutes).

One Perfect Pepper!
One Perfect Pepper!

Garnish with cilantro (if using).

I served my peppers with a side of Scallion Brown Rice...it was a perfect compliment!
I served my peppers with a side of Scallion Brown Rice…it was a perfect compliment!

 

Nutrients per serving (1 stuffed bell pepper): Calories: 237, Total Fat: 8 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g, Carbs: 17 g, Fiber: 3.5 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 26 g, Sodium: 482 mg, Cholesterol: 62 mg (If you are adding the cheese, add 20 calories and 1 gram of fat to the total calories and fat per serving)

Bottom Line: 

If you are looking for a healthy Mexican dish, that fills you up, tastes great, and leaves you satisfied, this is it!  Even better, I had some of the mixture left over and the next day I put it into a whole wheat tortilla for a satisfying lunch!  Please try this in your kitchen and you won’t be disappointed!  Happy New Year!

For the original recipe from Clean Eating Magazine, check out the following link:  http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/recipes/budget-recipes/mexican-style-stuffed-bell-peppers/

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