Quinoa and Italian turkey sausage stuffed peppers

Most of the time, stuffed peppers are made with a mixture of white rice and ground Italian sausage made with pork. Although this filling is cooked inside of a vegetable, it is not the healthiest meal. These stuffed peppers were made super healthy by using quinoa instead of rice and turkey sausage instead of the pork. Not only did I cut out a significant amount of calories (each pepper is only 210 calories!!), but the flavor is almost better in my opinion! They are hearty and meaty and best of all – cheesy!!! Yum!

These don’t taste like health food at all and I am so sure that you will love them! They are a great “make ahead” meal too! Once they are assembled (and before you place them in the oven), they can be easily wrapped up and refrigerated or frozen until you want to bake them up. The green bell peppers that I used were HUGE, so they are definitely enough to feel like you have eaten a meal.

Ingredients
Makes 5 stuffed peppers

3 mild Italian sausage links, meat taken out of the casing
1 cup quinoa
5 green bell peppers, tops removed and insides pulled out
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
3 Tbl basil, chopped
1/2 jar prepared tomato sauce (I used Newman’s Own tomato basil)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
Salt/pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pot, bring 2 cups of water and quinoa up to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and quinoa is cooked through.

In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil. Add to the pan onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. Cook for ten minutes to allow veggies to soften. Add in turkey sausage. Stir around to break up the pieces of sausage into small, bite sized pieces. Cook for another 8 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and basil. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble:

Place peppers cut side up in a large baking dish. Spoon quinoa mixture evenly into each pepper. Top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and broil peppers until cheese is browned.

Serve immediately.

Spring vegetable frittata

I usually am not big on breakfast food. Normally, I will have a smoothie or some fruit and Greek yogurt. Both of which take less than five minutes to prepare and fill me up for most of the morning. I am not usually in the mood to stand over the stove and cook eggs and bacon early in the morning.

This morning was different.

I woke up a little earlier than normal today and decided to make a frittata for my sister and me. My mom always made these for us while we were growing up and it still is one of my favorite ways to eat eggs to this day.

This frittata is really easy. There is hardly any chopping involved and it takes minutes to make. The recipe makes a large enough frittata that it can be shared with about four people and its super healthy because it has mostly egg whites in it and is loaded with veggies.

Ingredients

2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 cup non-fat milk
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup english peas
2 Tbl goat cheese, crumbled
Salt/pepper
Olive oil

Turn the broiler on in your oven

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside

Heat a small non-stick saute pan over medium heat and add a small amount of olive oil, zucchini and shallots. Cook until zucchini begins to brown and shallots are softened. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture in the pan and let the egg mixture set. Once the bottom of the eggs looks like it has set, move a rubber spatula along the edges to loosen it from the pan. The top of the eggs should still be uncooked at this point. Sprinkle in peas and goat cheese. Do NOT stir the eggs. Move the pan to the oven an allow to broil until the edges are browned and the top is cooked through. This should only take about 2 minutes.

Remove from the oven and eat!

Lemon basil risotto with peas corn and spinach

Risotto is a labor of love. If you have ever had authentic risotto, you know that it is a creamy, satisfying rice dish that is full of flavor. And, if you have ever cooked risotto, you know that it requires your time and patience – standing over the stove constantly stirring it until it is perfectly cooked.

I don’t make risotto often. It can be heavy and I usually don’t have the time to make it the way it should be made. But tonight was an exception. And after I ate this, I realized the true reason why I don’t make it too much. It is SO good! And I would be a balloon if I ate this all the time.

Although this is an indulgent dish for me, the addition of veggies and lemon really helps keep it fresh and light tasting. Feel free to add in your own variations to this recipe. Some mushrooms or shrimp over top would also be amazing in this and would really make it feel like a complete meal.

This is a perfect spring or summer dish to add to your table and I know you will love it if you take a little extra time to make it right.

Ingredients

3 Tbl olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups low sodium chicken stock (If you are a vegetarian, you can certainly use vegetable stock here)
1 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbl butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbl basil, minced
1 Tbl lemon zest
salt/pepper to taste

In a small sauce pot, keep the chicken stock warm until needed.

In a deep saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook until slightly softened. Pour rice into pan and toast for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add white wine to pan and allow rice to absorb most of the liquid. Once the liquid has almost all absorbed, add in one ladle full of chicken stock. Stirring constantly, allow rice to absorb the liquid in the pan and then add in another ladle of stock. Continue this process, stirring the entire time until all of the chicken stock has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is al dente.

Once all of the chicken stock is absorbed into the rice, add in the corn, peas, and spinach. Let the risotto cook for five minutes or until spinach has wilted and vegetables are heated through. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in butter, cheese, basil and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

*If your risotto seems a little dry, add in extra stock to thin it out.

Enjoy!!

Baked orzo with broccoli pesto

I just got home from a trip I took up to Rhode Island (where I’m originally from) this weekend. While I was there, I definitely got my fill of Italian foods and desserts. The food up there is hard to find anywhere else in the country, especially North Carolina. So, whenever I am up there, I tend to go a little overboard with indulgences.

Pizza, pasta, pastries = me passed out for hours. I’m really fun to go on vacation with.

One place in particular that I ALWAYS have to go to, is this bakery called Solitro’s Bakery. They have the most amazing pastries. It is so hard to just pick one thing that is my favorite there and if I could – I would eat everything in there once a day. If you are ever in Rhode Island, you MUST go there. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try their Russian tea cake. It will change your life.

My brother, Peter and I in front of my favorite place in the world ;)

Now that I am back home, I need to get back into my healthy eating. As a way to ease myself back into it, I made this baked pasta. It has some really healthy aspects to it, but it tastes super comforting (which always makes me feel like I’m eating unhealthily). It is really filling and super flavorful and it comes together in minutes.

And since I can’t eliminate desserts completely, here is a little sneak peak of my dessert which I will post tomorrow. 😉

Ingredients

3/4 lb orzo
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups breadcrumbs (I used homemade, but store bought works fine)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 cups broccoli pesto
3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions on the box. While your pasta is cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Assemble the broccoli pesto and set aside. Once your pasta is cooked, drain and place back into hot pot. Add in 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, pesto, and cream cheese to the cooked orzo. Stir to combine and place in a greased baking dish. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and almonds into bread crumbs to sprinkle over the top of the orzo. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Once orzo is hot and the breadcrumb topping is browned, remove from the oven and enjoy immediately.

Juicing

Recently, I have been hearing so much about juice diets. I’m not one for fad diets and I truly believe that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with the occasional lean protein will keep you healthy forever. But so many people have been jumping on the juice bandwagon and after some consideration and research, I figured that I would give it a try. Since I had been really curious about this, I thought I would make a post about it incase any of you were wondering about juicing as well.

Usually, people do these juice diets as a way to detox. It is really great if you have a special occasion to attend and need to drop some pounds fast, but it is also something great to do every so often as a way to cleanse your body. Although there is no scientific research to prove this, some people have chosen to do these juice fasts as a way to heal them from certain medical ailments (migraines, depression, etc.).

Anyways, there is this really great health store/market here in Charlotte that I have driven by so many times, but never stopped in. I had heard that they have a great juice bar so today I went over there and tried one out. I got a juice that contained carrots, celery, ginger, lemon, and one apple. It was interesting. This is the type of drink that I definitely think grows on you after a while. It could be something that I eventually developed a liking to, but it could take some time 😉 .

The flavors in the juice that I got were more savory than anything else. The carrot and celery really came through, but the apple not so much. I didn’t get much of a ginger flavor either. The lemon was definitely a present flavor which actually helped add some sweetness to the drink. Next time I might take the celery out and add something like spinach or kale – which don’t have very strong flavors. I will definitely have to give juicing another try because it really is a great healthy way to sneak in some extra fruits and veggies throughout the day.

I would be really curious to hear if any of you have tried a juice diet. Any flavor recommendations would be awesome!

I hope this was helpful and informative for anyone considering juicing 🙂