Stuffed bell peppers

A classic Mediterranean dish, this version is vegan (duh) and delicious!  You can do all sorts of variations.  For example, add Gardein beefless ground to get a meaty texture.  I used barley to add protein and fiber, but the typical version uses rice.  Barley is a whole grain, which means it’s great for your heart and blood vessels. Studies have found that eating whole grains every day lowers systolic blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and could therefore reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Whole grains such as barley also decrease risk of type 2 diabetes and improve colon health. Bell peppers have vitamin C and antioxidant properties. Red bell peppers are actually more active against oxidation than green peppers. The currants could actually stop the progression of glaucoma and are also rich in antioxidants.

Tighe P, Duthie G, Vaughan N, Brittenden J, Simpson WG, Duthie S, Mutch W, Wahle K, Horgan G, Thies F. Effect of increased consumption of whole-grain foods on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk markers in healthy middle-aged persons: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct;92(4):733-40.

Sun Q, Spiegelman D, van Dam RM, Holmes MD, Malik VS, Willett WC, Hu FB. White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jun 14;170(11):961-9.

H. Ohguro, I. Ohguro, M. Katai, S. Tanaka. Two-year randomized, placebo-controlled study of black currant anthocyanins on visual field in glaucoma. Ophthalmologica. 2012 228(1):26 – 35.

Serves: 4

Time: 45 minutes to cook barley, 15 minutes to make stuffing, 30 minutes in oven = 90 minutes (mostly waiting, not very labor intensive)

4-6 green bell peppers, sliced width-wise at the top to create a “hat”, and seeds and white parts removed on inside

1 cup barley, cooked in 3 cups water for 45 minutes (yields about 3 1/2 cups of barley)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 red onion, chopped into small bits

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup black currants

1 tomato, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

2-3 pinches each salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cook the barley until just finished, remove from heat before it gets soft

2. In a pan, combine olive oil and onions, and saute for 5 minutes or until onions turn opaque.

3. Add pine nuts, saute for another minute, then add barley and tomatoes.

4. Add cinnamon and allspice, cook for another couple of minutes, then add the mint, salt and pepper, and toss.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large oven pan, fill with water about an inch.

6. Stuff the peppers with the filling. Using a dessert spoon, put spoonfuls of the filling in and then pat down, to ensure that all the spaces are filled. Put the tops on.

7. Put peppers upright with tops on in the pan. Heat at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the color of the peppers has darkened.

8. Remove from oven and serve.

In Turkey, they also serve this dish room temperature or cold, and drizzle olive oil and lemon on it. The choice is yours!

Once again, thanks to www.nutritionfacts.org for the helpful nutritional information!

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