Baked Red Peppers Stuffed With Goodness
These. Are. Yummy. Fact. AND they’re super full of nutrients to make your body smile from the inside out!
Since embarking on a quest for healthy goodness at the beginning of April one major thing I’ve noticed (probably very belatedly compared to everyone else) is how many cheeky little unhelpful added extras there are to food that I had thought was pretty good for me! I’ve certainly discovered the value (and reaped the results) of cooking from scratch using only the good stuff! It took a fair amount of scouring food labels at the start but I’ve started to work out what is literally what it says on the tin and what is actually a chemically or sugar enhanced flavour. And my tastebuds can now certainly notice the difference!
The problem is, you don’t want to sacrifice flavour (I wouldn’t have the willpower to anyway!) in pursuit of nutrition or it will make you miserable and simply crave the taste of sugar and fat. So I started to experiment a little bit with foods I know are full to the brim of nutrients and other goodness, and to come up with meals that taste yummy, are within my price range and that I can prepare in bulk to freeze in my trusty tupperware.
These are my current favourite (recipe below) but my meal prep also includes yummy, filling and crazy healthy stir frys and super food salads amongst others for lunches to take to work.
- 6-8 Red bell peppers
- 800g Lean turkey mince or lentils
- 100g Quinoa
- 400ml Carton of passata
- 400ml Can of mixed pulses
- 175g Can of sweetcorn
- 2 Sweet potatoes
- 150g Butternut squash (optional)
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 1 Onion
- Oregano (fresh or dried)
- 50g Kale, Spinach or a mixture of the two
- Lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Put the quinoa into a pan of boiling water for 15-18 minutes until cooked, then drain the water.
- Chop the sweet potatoes (and butternut squash if you have it) into small chunks (about 1cm big) then place them onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. You don’t need any oil – promise! Don’t put them in the oven just yet – that comes a little later.
- De-seed and halve the red bell peppers (if using for meal prep you need to halve them to fit into tupperware – if you’d prefer them whole like in the picture then go for it – the recipe is the same!) and place them on a baking tray with the inside facing upwards. Again, no oil needed.
- Chop the onion and garlic, then pop them into a frying pan on a medium-high heat with about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for a couple of minutes
- If you are using meat add in the turkey and stir until cooked
- Add in the oregano
- Add the passata, mixed pulses, sweetcorn (and lentils if using) and stir for a few minutes
- Finally add the cooked quinoa and kale/spinach for a few minutes and stir well
- Spoon the cooked mix into the prepared bell peppers
- Place the baking trays with the bell peppers into the oven along with the baking tray of sweet potato and butternut squash.
- Cook for 30-35 minutes.
- Leave everything on the baking trays to cool for a couple of minutes then transfer the bell peppers to plates or tupperware.
- Add the baked sweet potato and butternut squash.
“It’s not what you look at, but what you see”
Henry David Thoreau
The teensiest bit of perspective goes a long way. The little quote above has actually helped me quite a bit. It helps me recognise that life is not black and white. Even if sometimes I can’t affect what happens to me; I always have the choice to decide how I view each person or situation I encounter.
One example is my daily commute. The drive to work is a 100 mile round trip. It is almost all on the M25 (which I firmly believe turns into the UK’s biggest carpark during rush hour) and I spend hours sitting in traffic. Literally. Hours. A good day for me is getting to work within 2 hours and home within 3. And it costs a lot. Not just in time but financially too. I love my job but the endless queues and miles of brake lights stretching ahead of me don’t exactly fill me with joy. However, I am sure I have learned a little patience over the past 3 years. At least; I sure hope I have! What has helped me get through the long drive is also the quote above. I look out at hundreds of cars worth of traffic, crammed into three lanes in each direction and hemmed in with barriers to protect the outside world from the sight of us; tall fencing, high banks of earth and other obstructions that save local communities from having to view the never-ending stream of vehicles. And after more than a little frustration on a few occasions I decided I needed a bit of perspective. I started a little personal project to find beauty amongst the mass of queuing automobiles. Believe it or not, seeking out something wonderful to capture has had a very positive effect on my mindset (and for any of you frowning and tutting at me for taking pictures on my phone whilst driving: I’ll have you know I only do it when my handbrake is on and my engine is switched off, which counts as parking thank you very much). Above and below are a few little moments since I started this little project 6 months ago – check out my instagram for more if you’re interested!
Example number two: The reason I endure countless hours in my little VW Gulf is because I truly love what I do. I teach teenagers who have failed at school and been kicked out from all other education options due to poor behaviour. However; on a bad day – amongst all of the aggression, verbal abuse and bruises – it can prove a bit tricky not to feel useless, helpless and hopeless. But, like Mr Thoreau suggests above, it depends on what I am choosing to see. As I write up all the daily required reports about each learner, I make sure to include at least one thing that went well for them that day. Don’t get me wrong – this can sometimes take a while to come up with and it can be a tiny thing such as the fact that they actually arrived at school. But it can also be positive changes that we wouldn’t have noticed if we hadn’t been really searching for them in the chaos – holding a door open, moving away from the elderly or young children when aggressive and threatening, calming down a little faster than usual, accepting someone else’s view, showing teamwork in football, making an effort. It’s these little things that could easily go unnoticed that are often the key to unlocking the potential in an individual. Our learners are used to being yelled at, criticised, arrested, told they won’t or can’t achieve, feeling unworthy, scared, helpless, out of control. And if that’s all they’ve had then it’s no wonder they end up with us. Along with clear boundaries, if we can help each teenager notice the good in themselves and encourage it – give them attention and praise for the positives, show them that they can contribute and are worth something – then somewhere along the line (and trust me it can be a very, very long line) something beautiful happens. They start to believe it. They start to believe in themselves.