Food for the Heart - Recipes from the Soul: Jack O'Lanter Stuffed Bell Peppers

Happy October! The Most Spook-tacular Month!

As Halloween approaches we start to become surrounded by sweet treats to celebrate the holiday. WHICH IS OKAY! In a healthy balanced diet there is room for these holiday treats, because food is suppose to be enjoyable not restrictive. When on Pinterest my feed is now covered in only sweet Halloween themed treats, and I wanted to make a way to celebrate the holiday with food for all the occasions and give a savory take on a Halloween treat even the kids will love.

There is an ingredient some may not be familiar with in this recipe, TVP. TVP is textured vegetable protein, which is a highly nutritious soy product that takes on a similar texture to ground beef or shredded chicken. It can commonly be purchased at your local Mexican Market in the seasoning section. TVP is a great cheap, fat-free, and high source of protein without having to buy the expensive meat alternatives. The amount I used in this recipe didn’t even cost me $0.20.

1/4 cup of TVP has 0g fat, 12g protein, and 4g fiber. I love to make chili or chick’n and dumplings with it, but in this recipe, the TVP acts as a excellent ground beef substitute.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free

Makes 6 Bell Peppers

What you need:

6 orange bell peppers

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1 cup vegetable broth or water (vegetable broth would be more flavorful)

1 15 oz can of low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed (this removes more of the sodium)

1/2 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)

1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (do not drain)

1 Tbsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

¼ white onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup whole kernel corn

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

vegetable oil as needed

shredded vegan cheese (optional)

avocado (optional)

corn tortillas (optional)

lime wedges (optional)

cilantro (optional)

sour cream (optional)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375°

Cook rice by adding vegetable broth and rice to a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer until all liquid is absorbed. TRY NOT TO STIR. Over stirring rice activates the starch and prevents steam pockets from forming causing sticky rice.

Clean. In the meantime, clean bell peppers by cutting off the top. Keep the top to put back on at the end. Remove the seeds and ribs with your hand or small pairing knife may be helpful.

Cut Jack O’Latern faces into the bell pepper using a small pairing knife, get creative here! Don’t make too large of cuts unless your stuffing may fall out. 

Mix. Once rice is cooked, add rice to a large mixing bowl add black beans, onion, garlic, corn, seasonings, fire roasted tomatoes, and TVP. Mix together

Stuff bell peppers with rice mixture leaving ~1/4 inch at the top. I cooked my bell peppers in a glass pie dish because it helped to keep them standing up straight. Brush bell peppers lightly in vegetable oil.

Cook in the oven for ~30 minutes uncovered or until slightly browned.

Optional. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to oven uncovered until melted.

Serve with desired toppings such as cilantro, avocado, sour cream, lime wedges etc. Can serve with corn tortillas to make tacos.


-Namaste, Melissa P.


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Melissa Poindexter, RDN, LD

A vegan registered dietitian nutritionist who doubles as a local Denton yogi. Melissa started her yoga journey with Karma Yoga in 2015. Melissa has a passion for working with individuals with special diets by giving education through evidence-based research. When off her mat and out of the kitchen, Melissa also enjoys outdoor activities, scuba diving, and gardening.