This healthy stuffed peppers recipe is made with no rice. Instead, I use cauliflower rice in the very flavorful, well seasoned stuffing mixture.
Stuffed peppers evoke strong childhood memories for me.
My late grandma Chava used to make amazing stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage leaves (I make cabbage casserole instead). Sadly, she passed away way too young when I was only twelve years old, so my memories of her are dull and scattered. But some of the sharpest memories are food memories.
Grandma was an amazing cook. She stuffed her vegetables with a mixture of rice, tomatoes and seasonings. Just like all her dishes, something about the way she seasoned food made it taste wonderful.
Grandma belonged to a different generation. A generation of women who worked hard in the kitchen, cooked without recipes, and created masterpieces out of the simplest ingredients. There were no blogs back then, no fancy grains and high-end oils, yet her food tasted so good, that some flavors linger even after 30 long years.
These days I make my own version of stuffed peppers, attempting to make them healthier. They are nothing like grandma’s, but they are very good.
What do you put in stuffed peppers?
Traditionally, you fill stuffed peppers with a mixture of ground beef, rice and seasonings. Although some people use ground turkey in an effort to keep this dish lower in fat, I don’t generally worry about fat. I worry more about carbs.
So in order to keep these stuffed peppers healthy, paleo and lower in carbs, I use cauliflower rice. It’s a healthier option that works well to absorb the juices and flavors as the peppers bake in the oven.
What seasonings do you put in stuffed peppers?
I like to give this dish Mexican inspired flavors and warmth by using chili powder, cumin, paprika and cilantro. I also add onion, garlic and tomato paste. The cheese adds wonderful flavor and creaminess, although you can omit it if you want to keep this recipe paleo.
Are they keto? Are they paleo?
I don’t use rice in this recipe, and sweet bell peppers are very healthy. However, this is not a low carb dish, mostly because of the tomato paste. So if you’re on a keto or very low carb diet, I suggest you omit the tomato paste, and use 6 medium bell peppers instead of 4 large ones, dividing this recipe into 6 servings instead of 4. This will considerably lower the carb content.
As for paleo, yes, these stuffed peppers can be paleo if you omit the cheddar cheese.
Do you need to blanch the peppers before stuffing them?
I don’t think it’s necessary. I bake the peppers in the oven for 30 minutes, which gives them plenty of time to soften without becoming mushy. If you feel that your peppers are not tender enough after 30 minutes, add 5-10 more minutes to the baking time.
What to serve with stuffed peppers?
You don’t really need to serve a side dish with stuffed peppers. They make a complete meal of meat and vegetables. However, if you wish, you can always add a side such as sauteed kale or roasted vegetables. You can roast the vegetables in the same oven as the stuffed peppers, slightly increasing the roasting time.
What about leftovers?
Keep leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for up to 3 days. Most importantly, reheat them gently, in the microwave on 50% power, or in a 350F oven for 15 minutes. As long as you reheat them properly, so that they are heated through, leftovers taste good. In fact, this is one of those dishes that taste better the next day.
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 (6 oz can) tomato paste (omit for a low carb version)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 large bell peppers (6 small peppers for the low carb option)
- 1 small cauliflower head, cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (6 oz)
- 1 lb. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar (omit for a paleo version)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a square 8-inch baking dish with olive oil spray.
- In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and paprika. Set aside.
- Remove the tops of the peppers, core and seed them.
- Place the cauliflower in your food processor. Process until it resembles rice.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the riced cauliflower, the onion and the beef and cook, stirring and breaking the beef up as it cooks, until the onion and cauliflower are soft and beef is lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.
- Add the seasoning mixture. Cook 2 more minutes, stirring, until everything is well blended. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and the cheese.
- Fill each bell pepper with 1/4 of the mixture, packing it in, and place the stuffed peppers on the prepared baking dish. Spray them with olive oil.
- Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes, until peppers are tender. Carefully remove from the baking dish into paper towels and let stand 10 minutes before serving.