Today I’m combining a classic American dish with flavors of the border and inspiration from the summer in these Tri-legume Salad Stuffed Peppers. Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meals to enjoy for dinner or a hearty lunch, the only downside can be cooking time. When I’m in the mood for something quick and easy, these stuffed peppers are perfect because there’s no cooking required and the legume salad can be made days in advance, all it takes is a minute of assembly. I use fresh lime, olive oil, cilantro, dill, parsley, cumin, and my favorite seasoning ground sumac to create a bright dressing to toss lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas into. The end result is a refreshing, yet filling salad with protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to keep you energized.
Very often I have the conversation with clients about their main challenges and hurdles they need to overcome, 80% of the time challenges are rooted in prioritizing meal prep or lack thereof. I’m constantly trying to come up with recipes that not only save time me time in the kitchen after a long day, but that can easily be translated into my clients lifestyles, and for you all too. This recipe is a perfect example of how easy it is to eat whole foods, prep ahead of time, exercise flexibility with the recipe (i.e. adding protein if you’d like, etc.), and enjoy what you’re eating wholeheartedly.
The Tri-legume Salad is great on it’s own, but I enjoy this so much more when using it as a filling for vitamin C rich raw bell peppers. Bell peppers are crunchy, juicy, slightly sweet, and the perfect balance for a starchy salad; not to mention bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C, far more than an orange! Why is vitamin C so important? For many reasons, but for the sake of this recipe the vitamin C helps your body absorb non-heme iron (a.k.a. the iron found in plants and plant-based proteins) making it a superhero to help your body absorb iron from the lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans. The fresh herbs, onions, garlic, tomatoes all contribute some nutrients as well including iron, vitamins A, K, C, anti-inflammatory compounds, and other trace minerals. Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs to use, it’s bright in flavor and may also work in the body as a natural chelator of heavy metals. Having a bit of healthy fats from the avocado and olive oil make this meal feel more satiating and also does a great job of keeping blood sugars stable since fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and protein. All in all, a good “balanced” meal with some staying power to keep you feeling good!
Get on the sumac train. Another ingredient in this recipe that I adore is ground sumac. I first fell in love with this spice in my fathers kitchen last year when we were all cooking in the kitchen, remember this citrus quinoa pilaf recipe, it’s an amazing spice to use to achieve a bright lemony flavor- nothing compares. I like using it from sweet to savory dishes, raw salads, stir-frys, tossed in quinoa, etc.
Beans and legumes get a lot of flack from different nutrition dogmas and groups out there, sometimes for good reason, but most of the time for no reason at all! Understandably, I agree that some of us shouldn’t be consuming legumes on a daily or regular basis if you suffer from digestive issues, leaky gut, inflammation of the gut or in general have a strong negative reaction after eating them. BUT for the majority of us, we can eat legumes (lentils, beans, pulses) without any issues and hooray for that! Gram for gram legumes aren’t the most nutrient dense at a micronutrient level, but they do provide great amounts of both fiber and proteins (in the macronutrient sense), especially for a plant-based lifestyle. I personally love incorporating legumes into my meals to give them more volume and to add a starchy component to a dish such as salads, just like this recipe.
Lentils and beans taste great, provide needed flexibility when creating recipes for a plant-based diet, and an easy way for anyone regardless of plant-based or not, to increase the fiber in their diet while also stretching their budget. If you remember last week we talked about how to eat healthy on a budget and one of my tips was about befriending beans- this is the perfect example of how beans can be used in conjunction with a protein to add volume to a dish without having to use that protein entirely. For example, using half the amount of meat you normally use and adding beans to make up the remainder, I love this idea for people transitioning into a more plant-based diet as well, try it!
Serve with |
- Large green salad with fresh veggies
- A dollop of Classic Cashew Cheese on top
- A dollop of Avocado Cream
- Add on any of the Salsa Fresca variations
- Add extra protein if you’d like (tempeh, tofu, hemp seeds, etc.)
A note on leftovers. If you’re making this for 1 or 2 people, that’s perfectly fine you’ll just have leftovers! When storing this as a leftover, keep the bean salad portion in a separate tupperware container and just leave the bell peppers whole until the moment of serving, then slice, hollow out, and stuff with the bean salad. These make great quick dinners or lunches to pack on the go and stay well for 4-6 days in the fridge. Actually, the longer the bean salad sits with all those amazing spices and herbs, the better the flavor gets.
If you love these raw summer inspired stuffed peppers, you’ll enjoy one of my most popular entrees the Moroccan Quinoa Stuffed Red Peppers.
- 1 cup red lentils
- ½ cup chickpeas
- ½ cup kidney beans
- 4 bell peppers (any color), topped removed and seeded
- ⅔ cup diced heirloom tomatoes
- ½ cup red onion
- ½ jalapeno, diced
- ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
- ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
- ½ avocado (or 1 small), diced
- juice of 1 lime
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground sumac
- pinch of sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Remove the top of the bell peppers by cutting down about ¼-1/2 inch. You'll also "scoop" the insides out including the white pulp. Set aside.
- If you have cooked beans on hand, use those, if no you can use canned beans well rinsed.
- Cook lentils to the package directions- about 1- 1½ cups water boiled and add lentils, cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all the beans, chopped veggies, and seasonings (everything except the avocado). Toss until combined and adjust seasonings to your desired taste.
- Using a large spoon, scoop the bean salad into the raw bell peppers.
- Top with fresh diced avocado before enjoying!
I hope you all love these and give them a try! Share your picture on Instagram so I can see using: #NSstuffedpepper
Nutrition Stripped news // be sure to check out the Intern application I shared yesterday for anyone interested in an internship- this is NOT just for nutrition-related individuals, I’m seeking creatives alike.