Monday, April 1, 2013

Moroccan Lentil Tagine Stuffed Peppers

I don't know about you, but there's something about stuffed peppers to me that screams out "Moroccan food!". I'm guessing that it was probably the fact that the first stuffed pepper recipe that I ever had was made by my father and did have a Moroccan flare to it...but I think that this little creation I made tonight takes it to the next level. This combination, though very classical, is absolutely delicious! And I made sure to incorporate one of my latest herbal obsessions--cilantro-- into the recipe. The health benefits of this wonderful, fresh tasting herb are simply incredible. For example, the heavy metal detoxing properties are rarely found outside of sea vegetables (sea weed), which are definitely harder to obtain than hopping over to your local grocery store. (see the health benefits section for a more in depth list of the wonders of cilantro) And there is a huge amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to boot. I think that if everyone had a little more cilantro in their lives, we would definitely be a healthier species as a whole. BUT that is beyond the point. This dish is wonderfully spicy, with the sweetness of the raisins and the spiciness of the tumeric and paprika all tied together by the warmth of the cinnamon. Give this a shot, its definitely a show-stopper (and, not to brag, but even my meat eating boy friend and his friend thoroughly enjoyed this one!)

 Moroccan Lentil Tagine Stuffed Peppers
1/2 cup green lentils
1 cup couscous
4 red bell peppers
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
3 cloves or garlic, finely chopped
3 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped. (reserve some for a garnish if you want!)
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is preheating, take the 4 red bell peppers and cut off the tops, just around the stems. Make sure all of the seeds are removed as well as the ribs.
2. Prepare the lentils according to the package instructions (make sure to salt the water, or use veggie broth if you're feeling saucy)
3. Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the whole cumin seeds to the oil. Once they start "popping" and become fragrant, then it is time to add the onion and garlic. Sautee the onion and garlic until it becomes transluscent, a few minutes.
4. Add the roma tomatoes. Sautee them with the onion/ garlic until they start to break down a little bit. Then, reduce the heat to medium low and add around 3/4 cup of water. Add all of the spices, and the raisins and let this mixture reduce until it is thick once again and most of the liquid seems to be absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
5. Prepare the couscous according to package instructions. Once it is done, mix it into the lentil mixture and mix well. Add the sunflower seeds and cilantro at this point, mix ut up and set it aside.
6. Prepare a small baking dish with about 1/2 cup of water on the bottom. Stuff each pepper with the mixture till it is fully filled. Place the peppers so that they are standing up in the pan with water. Cover the dish with tinfoil
7. Bake for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, or until the peppers are soft and start to shrivel a little bit. and enjoy!

Health Benefits!!

Lentils- high protein, high fiber, help lower cholesterol, good source of complex carbohydrates, rich in iron, high in magnesium
Red Bell Pepper- Low calorie and fat, super high in vitamin C, vitamin A and folate, high in fiber and wonderful antioxidants!
Onion-strong antimicrobial benefits, contains sulfides lowering blood lipids and blood cholesterol, contain flavanoids which are known to help protect against cardiovascular disease, high sulfur content for anticlotting agent.
Garlic- Contains allicin, an incredibly medicinal component, especially in raw garlic. Allicin can help prevent high blood pressure, aid in digestion, aid in inflammation reduction, help prevent and cure cold, and much much more
Tumeric- has high levels of curcumin, which is an antioxidant and can help improve digestive function. Has also been shown to aid in relieving arthritis related pains. Has also been shown to help prevent alzheimer's disease.
Cinnamon-lowers blood sugar levels, increases insulin production helping prevent type 2 diabetes, has an anti-clotting effect on the blood, smelling cinnamon alone improves cognitive functioning, fights E.Coli bacteria, has been shown to alleviate headache
Sunflower seeds- Sunflower seeds improve digestion, brain power and cardiovascular system; it is rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and iron.
Raisins- Raisins are awesome for you! They contain a phytonutrient known as oleanolic acid, which helps promote good oral health by destroying the bacteria that causes cavities. They are high in iron, high fiber, and contain boron which allows other nutrients to be absorbed into the body.
Cilantro-Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis, Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products, Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), Relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence and an overall digestive aid, Wards off urinary tract infections, Helps reduce feelings of nausea, Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation, Has been shown to reduce menstrual cramping, Adds fiber to the digestive tract, A source of iron, magnesium, and is helpful in fighting anemia, Gives relief for diarrhea, especially if caused by microbial or fungal infections, Helps promote healthy liver function, Reduces minor swelling, Strong general antioxidant properties, Disinfects and helps detoxify the body, Stimulates the endocrine glands, Helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar, Acts as a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal agent for skin disorders like fungal infections and eczema, Contains immune-boosting properties
Acts as an expectorant, Helps ease conjunctivitis, as well as eye-aging, macular degeneration, and other stressors on the eyes.


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