Quinoa + Chicken Stuffed Pepper Soup

Quinoa + Chicken Stuffed Pepper Soup

This is the lightened up version of my Stuffed Pepper Casserole.  The casserole is already pretty healthy, but the soup is even healthier.  And it’s just as filling.  I like to flavor stuffed pepper things with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.  I know stuffed peppers aren’t a Greek recipe, but I feel like the flavors of the soup need to be bold and savory, but not necessarily spicy. 

I didn’t start using Worcestershire sauce regularly until about a year ago.  If you’re cooking a meat or dinner dish, and it’s missing something, but you’re not sure what…add some Worcestershire sauce.  It’s especially good with beef.  Since I don’t eat beef very often, I use it when I’m mimicking beef flavors (like in this soup). 

Traditional stuffed peppers are filled with rice, but I just felt like doing something different.  I use quinoa in this soup, but you can always use rice if you want to.  For this recipe, I’m using my 5 ½ quart French oven, but you can definitely adapt it to a slow cooker!  Add all the ingredients in the same order I’ve listed below, and cook for 6 hours on high, stirring once or twice.

I always serve Stuffed Pepper Soup with hot sauce, grated cheddar or mozzarella, and sour cream.

 

Total Time:  2 hours (but longer is better)featured

Serves: 8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ red bell pepper, diced small

1 green bell pepper, diced small

1 medium sized onion, diced small

2 large (or 3 small) garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons Cavender’s Greek Seasoning

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 pounds lean ground chicken

1 cup quinoa

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

24 ounces marinara sauce

48 to 60 ounces water

2 tablespoons of beef bouillon powder

 

Directions

  1. Heat a French oven over medium heat. Add olive oil.
  2. When you can smell the oil, add the diced bell peppers and onion. Sauté over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, and dried thyme. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the ground chicken. Brown the chicken while breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the quinoa, Worcestershire sauce, marinara sauce, water, and bouillon powder.
  6. Bring the soup up to a boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce to a simmer, and continue cooking for at least 1 ½ hours (but longer is better).
  8. Serve hot with grated cheddar or mozzarella, sour cream, and hot sauce.

Grain Bowl Basics

Grain Bowl Basics

I think I mentioned this in another entry, but grain bowls and mason jar salads are what inspired me to start a blog in the first place.  It was right after the New Year in 2015, and I fixated on making both of these things.  I think I covered mason jar salads pretty thoroughly over 2 different posts (though my pictures could use some updating).  But I never got around to grain bowl basics until now (I first saw these “Health Bowls” in an old Real Simple issue.)  

Another new year, another reason to start fresh.  This year I’m planning to do a 10 Day Elimination Diet—not for weight loss, but because my stomach has been irritated a lot lately, and I’m curious if it’s because of certain types of foods.  I’m no expert, and I haven’t even started yet.  (As I write this, it’s New Year’s Eve.  I told my family I will not start this until everyone is back in school and at work because I don’t want to punish everyone by not having caffeine in the mornings if they’re all here). 

You may already know what an Elimination Diet is, and usually it is supposed to last for a month or so.  But I’m not sure I’m ready for that.  Instead I’m trying 10 days, and I’ll gauge it from there.  There is a long list of food types to avoid—types that can cause stomach irritation.  After you’ve done a week or more on an elimination diet, you’ve kind of given your digestive tract a restart, and then you slowly add back one food group at a time to see how you feel.  It doesn’t determine allergies, just sensitivities.  I’d like to know what I’m eating that’s making my stomach act funky. 

Some of the types of food you cannot eat include caffeine, alcohol (obviously), beef, pork, raw fish, shellfish, nightshades (like eggplant and tomatoes), white potatoes, soy, gluten, certain fruits like bananas and grapes, peanuts, dairy, and eggs.  It sounds like a lot!  But I decided to look at it as what I can eat:  chicken, fin fish, rice, gluten free oats, lentils, quinoa, sweet potatoes, lots of vegetables, lots of fruits like apples and pears, olive and coconut oil, every type of nut except for peanuts, tea, most herbs, almond milk and coconut milk, vinegars, even cocoa powder.  When I look at it this way, I think…hmmm, what can I make?  I have a lot of ideas coming very soon!

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Brown rice, chili and cinnamon roasted acorn squash, purple cabbage, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, avocado, hummus, and sesame seeds

Immediately I think of grain bowls.  My family likes grain bowls, and while I’m certainly not asking them to do this diet with me, it will be nice to make things we can all enjoy.  A grain bowl starts with a bed of grain– any kind you like.  For me, it’s usually Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice or Quinoa.  After that, I pick a type of protein like beans (if I’m doing vegan), or salmon or chicken if not.  I almost always add sweet potatoes, seasoned and roasted.  Then a few raw veggies and cooked veggies (for contrast), something rich like olives or avocado, some herbs, and a dollop of hummus in the middle.  I think of it as a salad, but the base is a grain instead of a lettuce.  From here on, I’ll just list some options, and let you go to work and become inspired.

 

Total Time:  10 Minutes plus time to cook any veggies or grains

Serves:  1

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

  • Grains (Pick 1): brown rice, barley, quinoa, oats, farro
  • Proteins (Pick 1): Egg, chicken, salmon, tuna, cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils
  • Cooked Veggies (Pick 2-3): roasted sweet potatoes, roasted acorn squash, roasted red pepper, steamed mushrooms, blanched asparagus, shelled edamame, roasted kale, blanched broccoli florets
  • Raw Veggies (Pick 2-3): diced cucumber, scallions, sliced radishes, shredded carrots, shaved Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, purple cabbage, grape tomatoes
  • Something Rich (Pick 1-2): olives, avocado, feta, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • Herbs (Pick 1-2): basil, parsley, chives, cilantro
  • Extra Flavor (Pick 1): hummus, pesto, chimichurri, Greek yogurt, tahini, tzatziki, olive oil and vinegar

 

Directions

Assemble your meal in a large, shallow bowl.  Start with the grain, and then layer the different vegetables and toppings.  In the center of the bowl, add dressing or hummus.

 

 

 

 


Perfectly Cooked Quinoa

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Perfectly Cooked Quinoa

I’m working on a post about Grain Bowls, so I thought it would be a good idea to have this recipe on Last Night’s Feast for easy access. GP’s Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice is tried and true, and I have cooked it at least 20 times since I posted it a few months ago.  Here’s the quinoa version from her book “It’s All Good.”

One cup of cooked quinoa has about 200 calories, 4 grams of fat, 318 mg of potassium, 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and 15% of your daily Iron needs.

 

Total Time:  30 Minutescapture

Serves:  4-6 (3 cups)

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 ¾ cup water

Coarse sea salt

 

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a strainer, and then add it to a medium sized pot.
  2. Add the water and a big pinch of salt (about 1 tablespoon).
  3. Bring the water to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer, and cover.
  4. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the individual quinoa germs look like spirals (about 12-15 minutes).
  5. Turn off the heat, and place a paper towel under the lid, and recover for 5 minutes while allowing the excess moisture to absorb into the towel.
  6. Fluff with a fork, and serve.