I took on the low carb lifestyle about 2 years ago, and feel so much better since doing so. I cheat every now and then, but for the most part, I stick to a low carb meal plan. Like any type of meal planning, it’s always challenging to come up with unique and tasty dishes that is not a repeat of the one you had the night before. Low carb diets are protein based, so it’s important to make sure that you are eating a good quality, low fat protein. Whether you have chosen to concentrate on focusing your diet on vegetable proteins, animal proteins or a combination of both, low carb diets work to help the body utilize stored fat as an energy source…and this is how you lose weight.
I wanted to re-make a childhood favorite, but didn’t know if they would be as satisfying as the original. As a kid, stuffed vegetables (yemista) filled with a meat and rice mixture that was then baked in a rich tomato sauce was a regular item on our table, especially during the summer months as you will find in most Greek homes. My dad would stuff just about anything – tomatoes, peppers, baby eggplant, zucchini, you name it he stuffed it. My favorites were always the pepper and the zucchini and nowadays, I have added portabella mushrooms to that list.
Because of my low carb lifestyle, I don’t add the rice anymore, but instead make a very flavorful filling using either ground beef, chicken, turkey or sausage and my thick and creamy ‘no roux’ cheese sauce. I fill the vegetables and then top them with more sauce and shredded cheese. If I have time to make a marinara sauce, I bake everything in the sauce for a really hearty meal, but if I’m in a rush I just bake them in a little chicken broth until the veggies are tender and the cheese has melted…usually about 20 -25 minutes. It makes a great quick meal during the week because you can make everything ahead of time and then simply assemble it when you want to bake it. You can even make the filling and freeze it until ready to use. It’s that simple and so very delicious…
Low Carb Stuffed Peppers
10 medium red peppers, rinsed & cut in half
1 pound ground meat of your choice
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely pressed
4 tablespoons dry oregano
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes *optional
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
S&P to taste
1- 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups chicken broth
1 recipe low carb cheese sauce (substitute half of the parmesan cheese for feta crumbles)
Rinse the red peppers, cut them in half and seed them. Place them in a baking pan that has been sprayed with a little pan release, then set aside. Next prepare the cheese sauce and set aside. To prepare the meat filling, add the olive oil to a medium skillet, heat well and add the onion until it begins to caramelize. Once the onion is almost ready, add the garlic and cook together until the garlic softens but does not burn. Next add the ground meat and cook it all together until the meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. If there is too much liquid, pour it off before adding the cheese sauce. At this point add the oregano, the red pepper flakes and half of the cheese sauce. Allow everything to cook together for about 5 minutes until it begins to thicken, then set it aside and allow to cool. Right before adding the filling to the red peppers, toss in the lemon zest, chopped parsley and diced tomato.
When your filling is ready, take a few tablespoons of the meat filling and add it to each pepper until they are about ¾ of the way full. Repeat this with all of the peppers. Once you have filled all of the pepper with the meat filling, take some of the remaining cheese sauce and top each red pepper with more of the sauce.
Lastly, add some shredded mozzarella on top of each pepper. Before placing these in the oven, pour the chicken broth carefully into one of the corners of the pan without adding any to the peppers themselves. This liquid will help steam the red pepper fairly quickly as it bakes in the oven. Once you are ready to bake, place them in a preheated 350°F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the cheese has taken on a lovely golden brown color. Serve warm with a great salad.