I’d love to pretend like I haven’t blogged in an ENTIRE YEAR, but ummm, I think you’d be like, “excuse me?!”. Yeah… So I had this fantasy of being a super woman-mom, where I would nurse my daughter to sleep and she would have those incredibly long naps and I would dream up meals to blog here on my sacred space. I would prepare them, photograph them, edit them, write something worth reading, and then post it; all-the-while, my sweet angel slept and slept and then woke up only to eat and then went back to sleep so that I could go to work (like my actual work) and then on my days off, get creative in the kitchen once again. Was that just too much to ask?! Apparently so. I struggled you guys. Majorly. There is thing, I’m sure you’ve heard of it? It’s called “mom guilt”. It happens at any moment when you, for whatever reason, feel this intense amount of guilt for perhaps missing any instant of your child’s life and their growing process. Since I had to be away from my sweet girl to go to work just a few days a week, I simply couldn’t fathom leaving her any more for any other single thing; whether it be working out, blogging, or even showering. Intense guilt!! Like I might be a horrible mother because I wanted to get a pedicure or attend spin class. But then something changed around her 10 month birthday. I realized that if you don’t truly take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. And the greatest lesson that I want to impose on my daughter, is to take care of herself first and foremost. Take exceptional care. If there’s one thing she imparts from her mother, I hope that she remembers her mom always put her kid(s) first, but that she didn’t let her own identity fall by the wayside. I want her to know that she should always put herself first in every aspect of her life.
The lessons are everywhere…. Work out because it’s important to teach our kids how to be healthy. Pamper yourself because it’s important to teach our kids the power of relaxation. Blog because it’s imperative to teach our kids the benefits of creativity and imagination. So there you have it, I’ve found that through this creative process I am constantly learning yet I am continually teaching as well.
This recipe is kind of synonymous with the past few months here in my home as a new mom. My best friend, Sara, whom I’ve spoke of before, had a little girl just 7 months before Presley was born. We have just been in awe of our lives and how suddenly her and I are raising two tiny princesses to fill our shoes. She’s been so incredible to have as a best friend, always, but especially in the last couple of years. She has been a shoulder to lean on, an ear for listening, and a hand to hold when I need her advice. Since she’s had her daughter so close in age in to mine, she is readily available for any guidance that I might need. She is inundated with text messages from me, “what is this rash?!”, “is this a sign of teething?!”, “can she eat this?!”. She has always been there, responding right away, in all her best advisement and encouragement. My favorite thing though, is sharing recipes and food ideas for our “mini-me’s”. This recipe is one of them. Sara gave me this recipe about 4 months ago and I have probably made it 15 times since then. It is super easy to throw together and healthy to boot! The best part, is babies can eat it too! Her daughter, as well as my own, have practiced the baby-led-weaning process so this dish is particularly nice for those babies using their tiny hands to feed themselves. It is packed full of complete proteins (hello quinoa!), veggies, and flavor. My husband, Kris, loves it just the same! We are all a bunch of happy campers over this meal. Now that I have a family to feed and have the realization that I can indeed blog and be a mom, I can promise that it will lead to a lot more posts and a lot more recipes coming your way! Enjoy!
- 1 cup dry red organic quinoa, rinsed & drained
- 6 red (or orange) organic bell peppers
- 2 TBSPs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 10 oz package sliced cremini mushrooms
- 2 gloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey meat
- 1 14oz can organic diced tomatoes (no salt added), drained of juices
- 2-3 TBSP Italian tomato paste* (see note)
- 1.5 tsps cumin, divided
- 2 tsps salt, divided
- 1.5 tsps pepper, divided
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- shredded pepper jack cheese, optional (or any cheese you like; gruyere or swiss would be amazing too!)
- chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley (for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Prepare 1 cup of dried red quinoa per package directions (always rinse and drain your quinoa before adding to the pot to avoid any bitterness). Set aside when finished.
- Remove the stems from the bell peppers and run your knife along the inside of the peppers to remove the ribs (keep the bell peppers whole so that you can stuff them later). Put the bell peppers in two loaf pans (3 in each) or all 6 into an 8×8 glass dish. Stand them up so the tops are readily available for stuffing. Set aside.
- Season the ground turkey; sprinkle 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp pepper all over the ground turkey. Set aside.
- In a large sauté pan add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the oregano and sauté another 5 minutes until mushrooms reduce in size a bit. Add the minced garlic, sauté for 1 minute, and then add the ground turkey. Break up the ground turkey as much as possible with a wooden spoon and cook until turkey is done. Turn heat to low and squeeze in 2-3 TBSPs of the tomato paste and stir. Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Turn off heat and add the cooked quinoa into the pan, and once again, stir everything to combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings (I added about 3/4 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Make sure your salt level is on point. You can also add some heat here, hot sauce or chili flakes if you like).
- Stuff each bell pepper as much as possible, using the back of a spoon to press the filling down. Once each pepper is stuffed, place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the peppers are easily cut with a knife. Once the 30 minutes are up, sprinkle a generous amount of cheese onto each pepper and place under the broiler for just a couple minutes until the cheese is nice and melted. Sprinkle each pepper with fresh Italian parsley and serve immediately! Enjoy!
- Store leftover stuffing in an air tight container and enjoy for up to 5 days.
- I love buying the tomato paste in the tube. It is super easy to squeeze and it allows you to use as much as you need without having to throw away the rest of the can. You can simply refrigerate it until it’s next use!
- I often have a lot of the stuffing leftover, because I usually just make 3 peppers at a time. I enjoy the stuffing all week (all by itself), long after the bell peppers have disappeared!
- Try this with the leftovers: Reheat the stuffing. Sprinkle a little pepper jack cheese on top and mix well. Serve it “bowl-style” with sliced avocado and chopped fresh parsley! AMAZING.