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Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers

Sharon Muse

We absolutely love Halloween, well really any holiday that gives us an excuse to get festive and creative! With Halloween especially, there is something so fun about decorating and getting to use all of the symbols (maybe its tapping into our dark side, who knows). In the weeks leading up to October 31st, we try to incorporate the Halloween fun any way we can. We know there is a really good chance that you have made stuffed peppers before, but why not turn them into a festive dinner for your family and friends to enjoy?

As we get older we have realized some of the fun gets taken out of this holiday, especially if you don't have kids. And we want to insert the fun back into our lives and that is why we love having a small Halloween party with our girlfriends. Think pajamas instead of costumes, wine instead of juice, and healthy fulfilling meals instead of sugar-filled foods and candy. It's the perfect girls night, with a Halloween twist! This year our main dish for the night is going to be these adorable, fun jack-o-lantern stuffed peppers! They are not only vegan but are also filled with nutrients that will keep you satisfied as you paint your chic pumpkin or watch a classic scary movie. And the best part is, they are kid friendly so you can even get your kids involved in making them! They are such a healthy option to fill your tummies before heading out to Trick-or-Treat! These jack-o-lantern stuffed bell peppers are easy to make and can also be made earlier in the day.

Since we know the rest of the evening may be spent eating fun-sized candy bars (no judgment, we will be eating a few of these ourselves), this dish will fill your tummy with goodness before heading out for the evening. Orange bell peppers are the star of this show and for good reason. Not only do they make the perfect edible pumpkins, bell peppers are filled with Vitamins A and C and have a good amount of Vitamin E - all of these are great for your skin and of course, Vitamin C is also helps keep your immune system strong.

We filled the peppers with our own homemade taco spice mixture to give it a southwestern flare and then added quinoa, black beans and lots of other veggies. Quinoa, you may remember from other posts, is considered a complete protein since it has all nine essential amino acids. And black beans are good for us as well! They are loaded in dietary fiber and contain over half your daily needs of potassium, iron, and magnesium. 

You can really stuff these peppers with anything you like, or add meat if that's your thing, but we love this recipe! It's easy, super nutritious and perfect for Halloween party or a pre-game meal before you hit the streets for trick-or-treating!

Ingredients:

4-6 orange bell peppers (depending on their size)

2 T olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 can black beans (15 oz.), drained

1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 T taco seasoning (homemade - see below* or can use packaged kind)

1 T nutritional yeast

Topping: sliced avocados - optional 

* Taco Seasoning:

2 T chili powder

2 1/4 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

*Combine all spices together and store in a small airtight glass container. You will only need a tablespoon for this recipe, store the rest and use for taco night.

Instructions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and allow to sauté for 30 seconds and quickly add in mushrooms. Stir to ensure your garlic doesn't burn and continue to cook until the mushrooms cook down.

2.) Add in drained black beans, diced tomatoes, thawed corn and cooked quinoa. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon taco seasoning and stir to incorporate. 

3.) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, stir and remove from heat.

4.) Cut the tops off the peppers and carefully scoop out the seeds and veins, discard the seeds and veins but be sure to keep the top of the peppers. With a paring knife or another sharp knife, cut out your jack-o-lantern face - get creative here, your family will love this! Prepare a 9" x 9" dish with cooking spray or line the dish with parchment paper. 

5.) Carefully scoop the black bean mixture into each of the prepared bell peppers and place in dish, place the top of the bell pepper on top of each stuffed pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast until peppers are heated through, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with tops on or sliced avocados on top and enjoy!