We may still be in sandals-mode around here for a while, but I’ve been flilpping through all the fall catalogs that have been arriving, anticipating cooler temperatures. And I realized, beyond the beaches, that there are pretty much four styles of shoes that would make my closet feel complete: an oxford, a sneaker, an ankle bootie, and something a bit more trendy and suited to going out—I’d go with a mule and a stacked heel. So, five styles really. I think I would really content with these shapes alone.
They have so many personalities, those bell peppers. I love sautéing them with a bunch of red onion until they are browned and overly-sweet; or, I love slicing them into “chip-shapes” and serving with mashed avocado. But most of all, at the end of the summer when the peppers are picked, I love coming up with recipes to fill them and let their colors shine. This time, I even kept them raw, vegan, and power-packed with nutrients.
Bell peppers have health benefits galore! Think of them as little energy boosters—they naturally boost your metabolism and they are filled with fiber. They also have more vitamin C than an orange! Plus, when we eaten raw, we receive all of the healthy opportunities the bell pepper offers us. Filled with beautiful bright-colored garden-fresh fresh ingredients, you have an energy-giving lunch—and then you can eat the bowl it came in.
For a while now, I have been addicted to making quinoa the easy way, while giving it layers of flavor. This means that during the last few minutes of simmering the quinoa, you add vegetables on top and let the steam from the quinoa cook them. (Less dishes, more nutrition, more flavor? I’m in.)
Look at these purple carrots. Have you ever tried these? All that beautiful darkness means they are high in nutrients that help protect your brain and give you glowing skin. If you don’t have a spiralizer (I didn’t until just last week!), you can make “carrot ribbons” with a vegetable peeler.
When the quinoa has been cooked with red onion, carrots, and fresh spinach leaves, finish tossing it with cumin, sea salt, and lots of chick peas. Stuff mixture into each half of the bell pepper. Then I love to sprinkle on lime zest and hemp seeds. If you’ve never used hemp seeds, you need to try them. They offer a delicious crunch, and are full of healthy fats. (And they look seriously pretty in their photo op, too!)
Celebrate the end of a beautiful summer with variations and whatever is picked from the garden. Enjoy!
Vegan Chickpea + Quinoa Bell Peppers
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 cup carrots, peeled into ribbons (using a veggie peeler;)
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 cup chick peas, drained
2 bell peppers, any color will do
For the stuffing:
Bring quinoa and 1 cup water or vegetable broth to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes. During last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle red onion on top, and cover again. During last 2 minutes, sprinkle carrot ribbons and spinach leaves on quinoa. Cover again and finish steaming. Toss remaining ingredients into the pot with the quinoa so it’s like a pilaf.
For the peppers:
Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. Stuff some of the quinoa-chickpea mixture into each open bell pepper. Lightly sprinkle lime zest and hemp seeds.
I just pick up the bell pepper shell and eat this utensils-free. But if you feel the need to grab a knife and fork, I won’t judge you…
Thank you, Annessa! This colorful recipe is the perfect way to celebrate a late summer harvest! And I love the idea of working a vegan dish into the menu. Thank you also to Sarah Ann Noel for her help coordinating this series!
Annessa Chumbley is a dietitian, a mom, a part time lifestyle morning show host, and a nutrition news contributor. She shares healthy inspiration and and tasty recipe ideas on her site, Annessa Nutritionist, RD.
I was surprised by how often the question “now how did you choose to go there?” came up whenever I mentioned our summer plans to travel to Scandinavia. I’d been interested in visiting for years. My curiosity was particularly piqued when we flew through the Stockholm airport en route to Croatia back in 2008: the tourism bureau’s photographs on the walls, the Ikea-like organization, and the reindeer pelts in the stores captured my imagination about this far north place. When I was looking up flights earlier this year, seeing where one could get to for the least money, I spotted some $300 RT direct flights from Oakland to Stockholm on Norwegian and the search was really on. Those were for March, and it cost us more to fly in June, but we didn’t think twice.*
*Though we maybe should have—one issue with planning this way is it doesn’t take account the costs once you arrive somewhere, and Scandinavia is expensive!
If you visit the Stockholm tourist guide, they welcome visitors by describing the city in these terms: “Modernity meets tranquility. Trend-setting restaurants and vibrant nightclubs next to idyllic archipelago. Welcome to a city where it is easy to breathe—and to feel your pulse.” The copywriter got it so right! The neighborhood or district we’d based ourselves in, Södermalm, would certainly fall to the trend-setting/modern side of that description, but I gather it’s been that way for a while. In the spectrum of cool, it has the feeling of “arrived,” with all of its hip young families and established restaurants, rather than “up and coming.” It also felt easy to breathe there. Alongside cafes and shops and restaurants was a lot of green. Parks and vistas—playgrounds—around every corner. And this sort of counterbalance was felt throughout our stay in Stockholm.
As usual, I’ve put far too much detail into the travelogue and it’s a million words long, but I didn’t want to forget anything about this amazing city! If anyone has suggestions to add for future visits, I’d love to hear them in the comments.