Miss A Columnist

Shawna Nadelman is a Gemini vegetarian who enjoys long walks on the beach and curling up on the couch to take in the latest episode of, well anything on Bravo. The staff at Trader Joe’s (the Encinitas location) know her by name. She can spout off almost any celebrity’s dating history, refer to Friends episodes in daily conversation and would give anything to marry a man like Coach Eric Taylor (of Friday Night Lights). She’s never met a ruffle, oversized flower or horizontal stripe that she didn't love and though her entire wardrobe hails from J.Crew and Anthropologie, she'll never buy an item at full price (momma loves a good sale!). Sure, some may argue she's the whitest gal they know, but (surprise!) she's fluent in Spanish and left a part of her heart in Madrid, Spain after a summer abroad in college. Her family is her everything and she certainly does not deserve her friends. Left to her own devices, she could probably finish off a jar of peanut/almond butter in one sitting.

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

This recipe is so versatile it can even follow you into the cooler months when produce availability shifts. I actually found it on one of my best friend’s personal blogs and after she sang its praises, I just knew I had to try it for myself. So this past Saturday, armed with my guy’s blessing (despite his unfamiliarity with quinoa and an affinity for meat) and channelling my inner Julia Child, I made this dish for our dinner. I think the result of my culinary quest can be summed up with a single comment he made at the end of the meal. “I would have licked the plate if I could.” Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach was right on. Though this recipe calls for cheese, we chose to forgo it and found the meal to be just as satisfying. I added a few slices of avocado on top for garnish (avocado makes everything better in my humble opinion) and paired it with a side of sauteed zucchini and crook neck squash. The result captured the three “F’s” I always hope my meals to be: filling, flavorful and figure-friendly!

Photo credit: Rebecca Patterson

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
(Source)

Ingredients:
2 bell peppers (your choice of colors)
1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Fresh cilantro for serving

Hot sauce (optional, we used Cholula)
Salsa (optional)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Once boiling, add the quinoa, salt, cumin, and tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes until liquid has been absorbed.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, wash peppers, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove seeds and ribs.
4. Take cooked quinoa off the burner and stir in black beans, hot sauce, and a small handful of cheese.
5. Fill the inside of the peppers with the quinoa mixture. Place in a baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Sprinkle cheese on top and broil on high for an additional 3-4 minutes.
6. Top peppers with fresh cilantro, more hot sauce and salsa, if desired.
7. Get a little bit of each ingredient in that last bite!

I can’t help but feel that vegetarians are a bit misunderstood. Sure, we love our fruits and vegetables, but we also love satisfying and filling meals that provide ample protein. And with quinoa in our cupboard and recipes like the ones listed above in our cookbooks, we can have the best of both worlds.

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