Okee dokee, here we are – I’m on Day 4 of a Whole30. This is the furthest I’ve ever made it, so I consider it a little victory – but I also know there’s still 26 days to go. I’m particularly impressed with myself, because I’ve had about a million things going on in my life and it would be really easy to say, “I don’t have time for this right now, I’ll start over when things slow down.” That’s kind of the problem, though, isn’t it? There’s always going to be something getting in the way – if you let it.
So why start a Whole30 on November 3, knowing that Thanksgiving is going to fall right in the middle? Well, a few reasons. One, I wanted to stop making excuses and just do it. Two, while my meals were still clean and healthy, my snacking was starting to spiral, and I mean fast. I started putting a tiny dab of honey in one cup of coffee in the morning, and that quickly turned into a spoon full in all 3 cups. My occasional square of dark chocolate when I wanted a treat turned into milk chocolate bar and Girl Scout Cookie benders (yes, I still have Girl Scout Cookies in the house in November – well, I should say had). Then I was adding all sorts of other treats and quickly figured I was stuck in a food-without-breaks scenario. Fortunately I didn’t gain ten pounds or anything crazy like that, but I recognized there was a problem and I needed to correct it.
Chocolate is the thing I crave the most. When I want some, I just go back to thinking about how many times I’ve gotten through Day 1 on a Whole30 and made a choice to break it (usually with something sweet). No more. We’re going to do this one!
Bronco Bear likes stuffed bell peppers, but I don’t make them often because I think they’re a really good “once in a while” dish. I had a bunch of bell peppers in the refrigerator that were going to turn south if I didn’t do something with them. I’d gotten a steal on them at the end of the farmers’ market, and I really hate it when food goes bad. The fastest way to use up bell peppers is, of course, to make stuffed peppers. Historically I made them with rice mixed in, so instead I mixed in some shredded zucchini and it turned out just delightful. I loved how the peppers were multi-colored, but of course that isn’t a requirement. I don’t generally serve these with anything on the side because you’ve already got so many veggies built right in to the dish, but a salad would probably be a good option.
4 large bell peppers, any color
1 T. olive oil
1⁄2 large or 1 small onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 T. chili powder
1⁄2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 T. coconut aminos
4 cups shredded zucchini
1 T. nutritional yeast
1 can sliced olives, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove stems and seeds from bell peppers and slice in half. Submerge peppers in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to a paper towel, cut side down, to drain.
Drizzle olive oil in a large pot or skillet. Add onion and saute until starting to caramelize. Add ground beef and stir to break up any large chunks. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika and coconut aminos and cook until beef is no longer pink. Add zucchini shreds to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is soft. Stir in nutritional yeast. If meat mixture is too dry (seasonings can absorb some moisture) add a couple of tablespoons hot water or beef stock.
Arrange peppers, cut side up, in a 13x9 baking dish. Divide meat mixture evenly between the peppers, spooning it into the opening. Top with olives. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until peppers are tender. Let cool slightly before serving.