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Nutrition for Immunity

Food contains the vital nutrients our bodies need to work properly. One of the most important functions nutrients support is to strengthen the immune system. 

Bell Peppers

Supporting a healthy immune system is an important part of survivorship. There are many key nutrients that can support immunity. In this article we will discuss some key nutrients and how you can work them into your diet. Vitamins C, D, A and zinc are important to consume regularly. If you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, chances are, you are eating plenty of vitamin C and A. Lentils, meat and certain seeds contain good amounts of zinc. Vitamin D comes from dairy products, fish, mushrooms and eggs. It is more difficult to get adequate amounts of vitamin D in your diet. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider about a blood test to know if you need to take a vitamin D supplement. Always work with a health care professional before adding supplements into your routine. 

  • Title
    Stuffed Bell Peppers
    Stuffed Bell Peppers

    Stuffed Bell Peppers is a simple method you can learn and make many different ways. We love this recipe, because you can fit many immune boosting nutrients into one dish. The basic method is to cook a filling of vegetables and protein on the stove before filling and baking the stuffed peppers. You can play around with seasonings, spices, herbs, filling combinations and toppings until you find something you love!

    Bell Pepper Filling

    Start by picking a protein for the filling. Adding protein to the peppers will make this a complete meal. Our favorite plant based protein is a mixture of lentils and vegetables. Learn more about plant based proteins in Building a Pantry Part 1. You could also use a meat protein for filling. Ground turkey, chicken or beef work well. No matter the protein you pick, don't forget to season your filling with onions, shallots and/or garlic for added flavor!

    Bell peppers on a cutting board

    Prepare your bell peppers by washing them well. Slice off the tops, and clean out the seeds and "ribs" or light colored parts of the insides. Give them a final rinse to remove all remaining seeds once you've cleaned out the insides. Some people like to precook the peppers by boiling them in water at this stage. If you have difficulty digesting vegetables, this could be a helpful step. You only need to boil them for a few minutes to soften them up. If you like a firmness or slight crunch to your vegetables, we recommend leaving them raw at this stage. 

    Bell peppers and a pot of filling on the stove.

    Next, fill your peppers with the filling you have precooked on the stove. We like to place the tops back on the peppers for a beautiful presentation. You can also top your peppers with herbs or cheese at this point. If you're using lentils like we did, you'll want to let them simmer on the stove for 15-20 minutes before filling the peppers. The longer the filling simmers on the stove, the more flavorful it will be. If you are using a meat filling, simply saute' your meat until it begins to brown, then combine it with your seasonings. 

    Stuffed Bell Peppers

    Finally, bake your peppers in an oven preheated to 425 degrees F. If you have precooked your peppers by boiling them in water, they will only need to bake about 10-15 minutes. If your peppers are raw, you can bake them for 30-45 minutes or until the peppers are as soft as you'd like them to be. 

Title
Lentil Stuffed Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

4 fresh bell peppers, cleaned, tops, seeds and insides removed.

You can choose any color you like, but red, yellow and orange contain more vitamins A & C than green. They are also sweeter in taste and less bitter.

Filling Ingredients

  • 3-4 shallots (1 onion is a good substitute), chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils (any color of lentil works!), rinsed to remove any sand
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a tablespoon of olive oil, saute' carrot slices on medium heat until they begin to change colors. Salt the carrots when you add them to the oil. Turn the heat down slightly. Add shallots and garlic and continue to saute'. Next, add the lentils and mix well. Finally, add the can of tomatoes and approximately 1/2 can of water. Stir the mixture and turn the heat to low. 

Seasonings

  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Vegetable broth concentrate (such as bouillon)
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 4-5 springs fresh OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

To the simmering lentil mixture, add a spoonful of the vegetable broth concentrate, the worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings. 

Assembly

Finally, fill your peppers and place them in a preheated 425 degree F oven. We like to replace the tops of the peppers for baking and presentation. 

Toppings

Toppings are optional! You can stop here and your recipe will be vegan and delicious. If you are not vegan, and you like, you can top these with mozzarella or provolone cheese. Sliced folded in half or a sprinkle of shredded cheese work equally well. You can also play around with adding a fresh herb, such as basil, or breadcrumbs. If you like a touch of spice, you could top with hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes. 

We like to add toppings such as cheese and breadcrumbs in the last 5-10 minutes of baking. Herbs and additional spices are best added after baking. 

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a side of fresh salad greens and a piece of french bread for a satisfying and complete meal. Stuffed bell peppers keep well in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months. You can easily double the recipe and save some for later. 

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