Healthy Stuffed Peppers and Eggplant

This is the perfect dish to enjoy on a cold day and can even be prepared in advance.  It holds up well when frozen, so make extra.  The grated Romano cheese is optional.  (I find that I can tolerate Romano cheese because it is a sheep’s milk cheese, but it can be easily omitted.)  The Basmati rice has a much lower glycemic index than your typical white rice and the ground chicken or turkey means a lot less fat and cholesterol when compared to the traditional ground beef.  The addition of the veggies adds nutrients and flavor.  (My girls call it rainbow rice.)

Ingredients:

3 Cubanelle peppers (also called Italian peppers)

1 large (or two small) eggplant

3 tbs avocado oil

1 cup frozen spinach

1 celery stalk diced

1 carrot diced

1/2 red bell pepper diced

1 shallot diced

1 tbs salt

1 tbs ground pepper

3 tbs fresh chopped basil

1 lb of ground chicken or turkey

3 cups cooked basmati rice (1 cup of dried basmati rice prepared according to package instructions)

3/4 cup grated Romano cheese

4 cups of canned or homemade tomato sauce

Cut off the top of the Cubanelle peppers and remove the ribs and seeds inside leaving the body of the pepper intact.  Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the white flesh with a large spoon.  Reserve the flesh of the eggplant and chop into cubes.  Place the peppers and eggplant into a large casserole dish.  Set a saute pan over medium heat and add the oil and diced vegetables along with the spinach and eggplant flesh.  Add the salt and pepper and cook the veggies for approximately 10 minutes until softened.  Add the ground meat and cook through.  Once cooked, turn off the heat and add the grated cheese, 1 cup of the reserved tomato sauce and the cooked rice.  Stir to combine and then spoon the mixture into the eggplant and peppers.  Pour the remaining 3 cups of sauce over the stuffed peppers and eggplant.  Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  Uncover after an hour and allow to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your peppers and eggplant.  Enjoy!

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