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STUFFED PEPPERS | stuffed bell peppers recipe + meal prep tips

 - When it comes tofamily favorite dinners, it's hard to beat stuffed peppers. The bell pepper is theperfect round device for holding a variety of ingredients, and today I'm sharingmore of a classic version that is stuffed with ground beef, garlic,

 onions, tomatoes, and rice. But as you know, I always like to sneak a little extra greensinto all of my meals, so I'm also adding chopped spinach, and once it's chopped and wilted down, unsuspecting family memberswon't even know it's there.

 Stuffed bell peppersare loaded with flavor and a great healthy option, but they're usually notthe fastest recipe to make and take about an hour. But, I've got a tip for you today that will cut that time nearly in half, making them the perfect weeknight meal.

One last bonus of stuffed peppers is that they make fordelicious leftovers meal prep. So even if you're one person, feel free to make this entire batch and freeze all the leftovers. All right, let me showyou how to make them. To get started, we'll prep someof the stuffing ingredients, and that includes dicinghalf of a large onion. If your onion is a biton the smaller side,

 feel free to dice the entirething, and then set that aside. Next, you'll need a 14 1/2ounce can of diced tomatoes. You could certainly add dicedfresh tomatoes in this recipe, but I'm particularly fond of this can of fire-roasted tomatoes, because it adds thatsmokey depth of flavor.

So just drain this can and set them aside. In typical Downshiftology fashion, where I'm always trying to think up ways where I can sneak moreveggies into my recipes, I'm adding two cups of baby spinach. I like to give it a rough chop so that once it wiltsdown, the pieces are small and most people won'teven know it's there. Now I do add a small sprinkleof Monterey jack cheese to the tops of my stuffed peppers, but you could keep this recipe 100% dairy-free if you'd like

. You could also drizzle someof my cashew sour cream on top for a creamy dairy-free alternative. Preheat your oven to350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then let's chatabout the bell peppers. You can use any color bellpepper in this recipe. It's really up to you. But if you're wondering whybell peppers range in price with green always the cheapest, it's because green bellpeppers are the least ripe and have a slightly bitter taste to them. All bell peppers start green, but when they're allowedto fully ripen on the vine, they turn vibrant colors,like yellow, orange, and red.

 And when they're fullyripe, they're sweeter, have more nutrients, and thusare a bit more expensive. Just a little fun fact for the day. So you'll need six bellpeppers for this recipe, and as you can see, I liketo cut my bell peppers in half lengthwise from topto bottom, more like a boat, rather than slicing the top off, so they're more like a cup. There's a few reasons for this.

First, you don't waste anyof the bell pepper this way. Second, they don't topple over when you try to slice into them and spill filling everywhere, and lastly, they're much easier to store in flat storage containers for meal prep, because while they might range in height, they don't vary too much in width. So cutting them in half lengthwise means they'll always fit flatin your storage containers. I should also mention one more benefit of slicing the bell peppers lengthwise, and that's that you canuse either a casserole pan or sheet pan for baking them, because you don't have toworry about them toppling over. Once you've got allyour bell peppers sliced and have removed the seeds, drizzle them with alittle bit of olive oil and rub them both inside and out.

This is where we're gonnasave time on the recipe, because you'll prebake the bellpeppers for about 15 minutes while you're simultaneouslycooking up the filling. So place them flat side down, which will allow them to steam, similar to how we cookbutternut or spaghetti squash, and place them in the oven. (gentle cheerful music)

 You'll need 1 1/2 cups ofcooked rice for this recipe, and you can use any variety ofrice, white, brown, or a mix, like this wild rice blend that I love. So I'll rinse 1/2 a cup of rice, because rice usually triplesin size when it's cooked, and add that to a pot of boiling water. And if you watched my rice video, you know that this pasta method where you just dump it into boiling water is my preferred method for cooking rice. While the rice is cooking, heat a saute pan on medium-high heat and drizzle a little olive oil. Add the diced onion andthree minced garlic cloves and give that a stir forabout a minute or so.

Then add one pound of ground beef and use your spatula tobreak it up while it cooks. The great thing about this recipe is that it's really versatile, so if you're not a fan of ground beef, feel free to use ground turkeyor ground chicken as well. Cook the meat until it's nice and browned, and if you need to drain off some grease, go ahead and do that. At this point, my rice is done, so I'll drain that ina strainer in the sink. If you have leftover rice in your fridge from a previous recipe, that's great to use inthese stuff peppers as well. So to my ground beef,I'll add the tomatoes, rice, chopped spinach, 1/2tablespoon of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

 Then I'll stir it for about a minute or until my spinach has wilted down. Now that the bell peppers have precooked for about 15 minutes, I'lltake them out of the oven and just place them on the stove top, then use tongs to flip them over. They'll be slightly soft, which means that once wefill them with stuffing, we don't have to cook them very long now. And remember that our fillingis already precooked as well.

 Use a large spoon to transfer the filling to the bell peppers, and sometimes it's easierto use a small spoon to help guide the filling in without creating too much of a mess. If I do spill some filling,I just use the tongs to pick it up and placeit back in a bell pepper. Once your filling is evenlydivided between all the halves, sprinkle on a little cheese if you'd like, and then place them back in the oven. At this point, they onlyneed about 20 minutes to cook rather than the normal 40 to 45 minutes. And while they're cooking,you can slice up some parsley for the final garnish. Remove the bell peppers from the oven, and if you're anything like me, your stomach will begrowling right about now because it knows the deliciousnessthat's coming its way.

 So quickly sprinkle themwith parsley or other herbs, admire how beautiful they are,and transfer them to a plate. I should also add that I frequently serve this recipe for parties,and it's always a hit, because it does present well, and it tastes as good as it looks. If you're meal prepping this recipe, it's as simple as transferring the stuffed peppers to a storage container and placing them in the fridge or freezer. They'll last for up tofive days in the fridge and up to two months in the freezer. And then to reheat them,you can use a microwave oven or toaster oven untilthey're warmed through. This is one of my favoriterecipes to meal prep, and I always seem to havea batch in the freezer, which comes in handy for those nights I need something in a pinch

. But I'm gonna eat oneof these fresh and warm, and now that the stuffedpeppers are cooked, you can see how easythey are to slice in half without toppling over, and that filling is, oh,so juicy and flavorful. I hope you guys loved this recipe, and if you did, make sureto give it a thumbs up, leave a comment below, share it with your family and friends, and I will see you again next week with another tasty recipe.