Stress-Busting Foods

Foods such as bell peppers, turkey, quinoa, avocado and basil have properties that can reduce stress.

A few years ago, Dr. Mehmet Oz asked me to create a recipe containing foods that help to naturally reduce stress and to do a cooking demo on “The Dr. Oz Show.” I found that the following ingredients have stress-reducing properties: red, orange and yellow peppers; turkey; spinach; quinoa and brown rice; low-fat cheese and Greek yogurt; avocado; and basil. This is the healthy, stress-reducing recipe I created for “The Dr. Oz Show.” Enjoy!

Stress-Busting Stuffed Bell Peppers

8 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, or a mixture of all (about 4 pounds)

2 tablespoon canola or olive oil, divided

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

16 ounces fresh Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing, or ground turkey

1 (16 ounce) jar chunky salsa, mild or hot

2 cups fresh baby spinach, rinsed and chopped, or 1 (10-ounce) package chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove moisture

2 cups cooked quinoa or cooked brown rice, or mixture of both

1 cup low-fat Cheddar cheese

2 large avocados, peeled and pits removed, sliced

1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Heat oven to 375 F. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, slicing from the stem to the bottoms, leaving the stems intact. Remove the white pithy ribs near stem and down length of inside. Remove the ribs and seeds, and discard. Place the peppers in a shallow 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Drizzle the peppers with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cover the dish with foil, and bake the peppers 15 to 20 minutes, until they start to soften.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, chili powder and cumin; cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage or ground turkey, breaking it apart with a fork and cooking until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the salsa and spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the cooked quinoa and/or brown rice.

3. Fill the pepper halves with the turkey mixture. Cover with foil. Bake 20-25 minutes until peppers are tender. Remove foil and sprinkle peppers with cheese. Return to oven; bake, uncovered, until cheese has melted. Top peppers with avocado slices, yogurt and basil. Makes 8 servings, 2 stuffed pepper halves per serving.

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