healthy dinner

Curried Lentil Stuffed Peppers

 
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I have been loving these stuffed lentils lately! They take no time to make and the ingredients are super simple. Even my meat-loving boyfriend loves them! They'd also be good in an acorn squash, but I find peppers cook a little quicker.

In our house, meals can be somewhat challenging. While, I'm not a vegetarian, I prefer to focus on more plant-based meals, while my boyfriend is all about juicy burgers and rare steak. We try to share the cooking responsibility so we get a good mix of vegetarian and meat-centered meals. There are a few things we've found we can make to be half veg/half meat - but more on this later. This is something we can agree on. He also likes stuffed acorn squash with quinoa.

What are your favorite meals to satisfy the meat and veggie lovers in your life?


 

Ingredients:

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3 small-medium, or 2 large bell peppers
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
3/4 cup diced mushrooms
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red lentils (or any color would work)
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth*
2 handfuls of spinach

*note: The amount of broth varied depending on the brand of lentils I used. I would start with 1.5 cups and add more as need

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. 

2. Prep the peppers. Slice each pepper in half and remove the seeds. Place in a baking dish, filled with about 1cm of water. Cover with aluminum foil. Place in your preheated oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until peppers have softened and cooked. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium sized pot, heat a dash of oil over med-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and mushrooms and saute for a minute or so until the onion begins to soften.

4. Add the curry, ginger, turmeric, and tomato paste.

5. Add the lentils and broth. Cook until the lentils are soft and have absorbed the majority of the broth.

6. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat.

7. Spoon lentil mixture into the pepper halves. Serve with a side salad and enjoy!

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut Sauce recipe video + 3 Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

 
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Did you know October is Vegetarian Awareness Month?

While I don't label myself a vegetarian, I do like to think I eat more of a plant-based diet. I don't love meat and I don't love the way heavy, meat-centered meals make me feel. But every so often, I'm served meat or feel like eating a burger, so I dig in. 'Plant-based' does not have to mean full out vegetarian or vegan. It can mean you eat meat a few nights a week, when you're served it, or maybe even every night just not as the center of the meal.

We've all been told to eat our veggies, and it's true - they have countless health benefits. More and more research has been done on a plant-based diet showing the outstanding health benefits. And while, yes, plant-based may sound trendy, unlike Paleo or Whole30, it has quite a few more (science-based) benefits. See hereherehere, and here.

The main concern people have when adopting more of a plant-based diet is where they will get their protein. While it is a logical concern, meat and animal products are not the only sources of protein in our food supply. Below are a few sources of protein that come from plants.


Plant-Based Proteins:


Nuts
(peanuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashew - they're all good choices)
Nut Butters
(almond butter, tahini, cashew butter, peanut butter - again, they're all great)
Seeds
(flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
Black Beans, White Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans, etc.
Chickpeas
Lentils
Edamame
Tofu
Tempeh

Quinoa
Buckwheat

Even some veggies! (1 cup of cooked spinach has 5 grams)
 


As I mentioned above, we could all benefit from eating more plants. Here are just 3 benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

1. Weight Management

Vegetarians have a lower rate of obesity. By focusing on lower calorie, nutrient dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to fill you up it is easier to pay attention to your hunger and fullness and feel full on less calories. 

2. Improve heart health

Studies have shown lower rates of heart disease (and other chronic diseases) in people who eat a plant-based diet. Plant based diets have also been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

3. Improve gut health

Diets high in animal products have been shown to alter our gut microbiota and contribute to inflammation. Plant-based diets are higher in fiber which works wonders on our digestive track. This Harvard study, showed differences in gut bacteria when consuming a diet high in animal proteins versus a diet mainly comprised of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant-based proteins. Read more about a gut healthy diet here.

 

 

It is important to note, that a plant based diet emphasizes plants and whole foods and limits processed foods. Vegetarians whose diets focus heavily on potato chips and other highly processed foods may not reap the same benefits.


And now for the recipe. . . I remember this meal being one of my go-to dinners last summer. I usually have all the ingredients on hand and it can easily be thrown together in just 10 minutes. 

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Ingredients:

for the peanut sauce:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp hot sauce

everything else:
1 sweet potato
1/2 cup kale
1/4 cup black beans

 

Directions:

1. Prep the peanut sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl. You can also add them all to a blender if that's easier for you. *Note: I don't like spicy foods, this recipe is NOT that spicy. Adjust the hot sauce to taste.

2. Poke holes in the potato.

3. Microwave the potato for about 8 minutes, or until soft. Roll over halfway through, for more even cooking.

4. Slice the potato down the middle. Fill with kale and black beans.

5. Return to the microwave or another minute (or so) to heat the kale and beans.

6. Drizzle the peanut sauce on top and enjoy!

 

This month's #letberealmeals recipe challenge was Meatless Mondays. Follow along each month, as me and my RD friends make simple, healthy recipe videos to help you make healthy eating easy. All recipes contain no more than 10 ingredients and take no more than 30 minutes to make. If you are a brand or dietitian interested in getting involved, please contact me.

DIY No Rise No Yeast 3- Ingredient Pizza Dough

Sometimes you just want pizza. It's an easy go-to and even healthy meal. But, who has time (or patience) to actually use yeast and wait for it to rise? Not me! Maybe on the days I plan ahead, but I'm not always that organized.

Sometimes you need a quick last minute meal and lucky for you I have the perfect solution. I made this just the other night- we got home late and needed a quick-fix dinner. I whipped up this dough, threw on some leftover spaghetti sauce, veggies, and cheese and called it dinner (and then lunch the next day).

It can be easy and affordable to buy the pre-made, Pillsbury pop-open can of pizza dough, but I'm personally not a fan of the hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and other mystery ingredients inside. There's a local bakery here in Bozeman that makes pizza dough and sells it at our local grocery store. For the longest time, this is what I would get until I discovered this super easy recipe (thank you, Pinterest!) and made it my own. As much as I love the local dough, at $2.69 each you can make your own for far less, with ingredients you likely already have on hand: flour, beer, and baking powder. (I'll be honest, it doesn't rise quite the same, but I think it tastes great nonetheless). 

I've tried making this with a few different beers. I've had the best luck with the local, lighter beers. I've used a local Amber Ale and a lighter Pale Ale and could not taste the beer at all. Last time, I used Budweiser (unfortunately, all we had), and it definitely had a slightly Budweiser taste. It was edible, but I probably won't be doing that again. Really any beer will work, play around with what you like. I'd recommend a more mild tasting one.

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Ingredients:

3 cups bread flour (I've also used whole wheat and white whole wheat, the bread flour rises a bit better)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 12 oz good beer
~1 Tbsp pizza seasoning (or Italian seasoning, Herbs de Provence, etc. - whatever you have)

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Mix ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
2. Spread on a lightly floured surface and roll flat into your desired pizza shape.
3. Lightly brush or rub on a bit of olive oil.
4. Bake for 3-5 minutes until dough is set.
5. Add sauce and toppings (more veggies, less cheese!).
6. Return to oven and cook for ~20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.