Quinoa and Beef-stuffed Peppers


12 small to medium red, yellow or orange sweet peppers
2 cups 2% cottage cheese, drained
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup quinoa (or brown rice)
2 cups water
2 tsp canola oil
1 lb Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped drained canned water chestnuts (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


Cut each pepper across stem end to make pepper lids and cups. Remove and discard seed core from each. (Note: if pepper cups won`t sit upright, remove small slice from bottom of each, being sure not to create an opening). Set aside. Combine cottage cheese and Parmesan in small bowl; set aside.

Combine quinoa (or brown rice) and water in medium saucepan; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, simmer, covered for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and let cool for 5 mintes. Fluff with fork. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook beef in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up with potato masher or wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes or until no longer pink. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tsp fat from skillet.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, onion and mushrooms to skillet; sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Return beef and accumulated juices to skillet. Stir in tomato sauce, water, chestnuts (if using), oregano, basil and black pepper to taste; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in quinoa (or brown rice).

Stuff half of each pepper with some filling. Layer each with cottage cheese mixture; top each with remaining filling and Cheddar cheese. Top with a pepper lid; place on parchment paper or lightly oiled foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Bake in 375 degrees F oven for about 20 minutes or until digital instant read thermometer inserted in centre of filling registers 160 degrees F.

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