Grain Free Stuffed Peppers
These Grain Free Stuffed Peppers are great way to fit in tons of veggies along with healthy proteins and fats. There’s a perfect blend of flavours packed into some nutritious sweet peppers. This recipe is a great alternative to mix up the standard taco night!
Packing in the Veggies
As strange as it may sound, I got the idea for these Grain Free Stuffed Peppers from my favourite vegetarian enchilada recipe. It calls for a filling of zucchini, corn, and black beans, all of which I incorporated along with the 100% grass-fed/finished ground beef. I also used the same enchilada sauce because it is so delicious and adds a lot of depth and spice.
One of my main motivations for making this recipe was because I still had a little sweet corn and TONS of zucchini from the garden in the freezer. (I better a find a way to deal with the zucchini now before I have more coming in a few months!) I found out the hard way that frozen zucchini acquires an unpleasant texture when thawed, but thankfully it blends in with the other ingredients in these Grain Free Stuffed Peppers, so the texture isn’t an issue! That being said, you can also use fresh zucchini, especially when it’s in season!
Why Grain Free?
Seeing a “grain free” recipe on the blog might make you wonder what on Earth I have against grains. And the truth is, nothing! Like most people, I eat grains almost every day in one form or another. However, I know that I don’t get enough protein in my diet, partly because I tend to fill up on carbohydrates. I chose to omit the rice from these Grain Free Stuffed Peppers in order to balance out the macronutrients. The result is a pretty even split between protein (18g), fat (16.5g), and carbs (22g). The carbohydrates in this recipe are predominately from veggies and black beans, providing fiber. Paired with healthy fats and proteins, this meal should keep your blood sugar nice and stable. As a side note, if you follow a paleo diet, simply omit the black beans and cheese and you should be good to go!
Pasture Raised Meat
When selecting beef, for these Grain Free Stuffed Peppers, try to find some that is American Grassfed Association certified. They require that ruminant animals are raised unconfined and fed only grass and forage. They never receive antibiotics or hormones and come from American family farms.
There are plenty of “grass-fed” beef products on the market, but that does not mean they were only fed grass. More often than not, these animals finish their life in an overcrowded feedlot, eating grain to gain weight quickly. That’s the difference between “grass-fed” and “grass-fed and finished”.
Why does it even matter? Aside from the environmental and animal welfare arguments for pasture raised beef, cattle raised on pasture produce a more nutritious product. Overall, 100% grass-fed and finished beef contains more of the saturated fats that lower cholesterol and less of the ones that raise it. There are also more antioxidants and vitamins such as the building blocks the body needs to make fat-soluble vitamins A and E (Daley et al.).
Freshly Shredded Cheese
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a huge proponent of freshly shredded cheese. First, it tastes so much better! If you don’t believe me, do a side-by-side comparison–you’ll definitely see the difference. It has a softer, creamier texture and melts a lot easier than anything pre-shredded. That’s because shredded cheese has a coating of anti-caking agents and mold inhibitors. So the next time you’re grocery shopping, pass on the saw-dust cheese and get a block of the good stuff. An extra couple minutes spent grating is absolutely worth it!
How to Make Grain Free Stuffed Peppers
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have two 9×13 baking dishes ready. Slice the bell peppers in half, remove the stems and seeds, and place them face up in the dishes.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and add onion, garlic, and ground beef. Break up the beef into small pieces as it starts to brown. Add salt and pepper.
Stir every few minutes until the beef is almost fully cooked (at this time only the bigger pieces should have a little pink inside when broken open).
Add the black beans, corn, and zucchini and stir them into the meat. I used frozen corn and zucchini, but fresh would work just fine too. Keep cooking until the beef is brown all the way through and the veggies are thawed (if previously frozen) or softened.
Meanwhile, make the enchilada sauce. Pour the olive oil into a sauce pan on medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent and slightly soft. Stir every few minutes. Then add the garlic and continue stirring for 30 more seconds.
Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt. For the most intense flavour, grind fresh cumin seed in a mortar and pestle. Stir the spices in with the onions and garlic until they are well coated with seasoning. Then add the broth, honey, and crushed tomatoes. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. When the sauce is boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes until it thickens slightly.
When the meat is cooked and the sauce is ready, pour the sauce into the skillet and mix well. Scoop the filling into the peppers in the baking dish. Top with freshly shredded pepper jack cheese.
Bake for about 40 minutes until the peppers are soft and the cheese is slightly golden. I hope you enjoy these Grain Free Stuffed Peppers! Be sure to leave a rating on the recipe card and any thoughts or questions in the comments below. Happy cooking!
More Recipes to Try
- INSTANT POT BUTTERNUT CHILI
- BLACK BEAN & SPINACH QUESADILLAS
- SPICY CURRIED MEATBALLS WITH VEGGIES AND RICE
- HEARTY VEGAN VEGETABLE SOUP
Daley, Cynthia A et al. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.” Nutrition journal vol. 9 10. 10 Mar. 2010, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10