Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice: Paleo!

Let me tell you, it has been hot.  And living on the 3rd floor doesn't help with the whole heat rises deal. So I've been trying to minimize turning on the oven other than when necessary, and I've actually been happy to have no orders or need to bake lately.  Woah, never thought I'd say those words.
I do, however, make exceptions for turning the oven on for a quick meal prep, mainly becuase I need to eat or else I think I'll die {yeah I'm dramatic}. But I'm always hungry. Being paleo and a workout fanatic has changed me from barely eating 2 meals a day to constantly looking for something to eat.  Perhaps thats why I chew a pack of gum a day..I have issues.

So now that I'm in the steady groove of my new lifestyle and weekly meal prep, I've been experimenting outside my chicken and steak norms.  I've posted photos of my stuffed peppers before, but they are now perfected to my tastes and a staple in my diet, so I think it's time to share! 
It has also been hard for me to switch up my vegetable selection. Until recently I can admit I've probably been about as picky as a 6 year old when it came to my food choices.  I've literally even turned down bribery offers exceeding $100 from my loving father to try things such as Flan {yuck, that goes against my consistency aversion}.  So anyway, being Paleo I really needed to start breaking out from my usual salads and green beans against my will.  Literally I could eat a salad {with meat of course} for every meal of every day and be as happy as a dog with two tails.

I've branched out to yellow and green squash, especially in the spaghetti form aka "zoodles".  If you don't have one of these awesome julienne peeler tools yet go get one right now--seriously it's amazing and with a little marinara sauce yumm--makes for another great side with these stuffed peppers.
On that note lets quickly side track to marinara sauce. If you've got the time and knack for making sauce, by all means its probably the best option for you, as brand names generally sneak some amount of sugar or other unfriendly ingredients in there. If you're like me and sometimes like to cheat the system when in a rush, there are brands similar this that have no sugar added and low sodium, which gets the job done just as well!
But what I really want to share with you is an even bigger step I've made: cauliflower.  Now I'm not a huge fan of it in the floret form yet, and definitely not raw, but I've finally attempted to make cauliflower rice and it is really delicious! I think the fact that cauliflower adapts to flavoring quite easily makes it a very versatile vegetable. I'm going to share a simple version with you that is perfect paired with these peppers, but feel free to experiment with stir fry, spices, and any other form of rice that tickles your fancy.
Stuffed Peppers
4 Red Bell Peppers
1lb Lean Ground Turkey
Spinach, giant handful
Cauliflower Rice, optional
Marinara Sauce {No sugar or you're own homemade}
Italian Seasonings

Cauliflower Rice
1 Medium Head Cauliflower
Yellow Onion, finely chopped
Olive Oil

Cauliflower rice:
Chop up a medium head of cauliflower into smaller pieces and place in a food processor.  Pulse for about 1 minute or so until the cauliflower takes on the size and texture of rice. 
* 1 head will make enough rice for about 4-5 meals, so you can store it in a ziploc bag or container until ready to be cooked. 

Stuffed Peppers:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off the peppers and save as covers when baking the stuffed peppers.  Use a large muffin pan, or cupcake pan, to stand the bell peppers upright.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground turkey and season with salt, pepper and italian seasonings.  Brown until almost fully cooked through.
Lower heat slightly and add a heaping handful of spinach, and some cauliflower rice if you'd like for added flavor and heartiness. cook for about 1 minute or so until spinach has wilted and is fully encorporated.  Add about 1 cup of marinara sauce, depending on your tastes, and stir to fully encorporate.
Turn off the heat and begin to stuff peppers evenly into the 4 prepared bell peppers. Continue to fill until all peppers are full.  Cover with the tops to the peppers and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked.
When the peppers are almost done, heat a small skillet with olive oil.  Place in chopped onions and cook for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add in desired amount of cauliflower rice, season with salt and pepper, and allow to cook/fry for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from the heat and serve plated with a stuffed pepper! Or make a mess like me, mix it all together and enjoy :)