The Dude Diet: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Exactly one year ago today, I wrote a short piece addressing the nutritional idiocy of my boyfriend/roommate, Logan, accompanied by a poorly depicted recipe for pork osso buco. I talked about Logan’s strangely intense love of burgers, cheese steaks, and pizza, and how I feared that based on his disturbing diet, he may not have many years left to live. It was honest and informative, but it was meant to be a one-off. A cathartic exercise, if you will.
Therefore, I was very surprised when I received a flood of emails, texts and phone calls regarding the aforementioned post. (This overwhelming response was particularly shocking because, let’s be real, Domesticate Me! wasn’t nearly as fancy or popular back then.) People were intrigued. Was Logan really on a diet? Sort of. What exactly did this diet entail? Moderation and being less of an idiot. Should they go on the same diet? Yes. I might be a genius. Was Logan going to break up with me because I had outed him as “nutritionally confused” on the internet? I hoped not. We had just become roommates! There were so many questions, and people seemed pretty set on me providing them with answers. So, I decided to give the masses what they wanted and make The Dude Diet a permanent fixture on this blog. You’re welcome.
Over the past year, The Dude Diet has tackled everything from making responsible snack and cocktail choices to curbing sugar cravings and improving your snoring habits, and many important things in between. I’m very excited to report that there are now more than 30 Dude Diet friendly recipes on this site, each of which has been given the seal of approval by the Dude himself, who has remarkably high standards for someone that used to subsist solely on Chipotle and Italian subs. My hope is that even the pickiest of dudes will be able to find something in The Dude Diet’s recipe repertoire that will make them as giddy as Logan at a Chinese buffet.
As one does on anniversaries, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on The Dude Diet today. Needless to say, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing (see: China Fest 2012, Christmas, Hippie Fest 2013). I mean, making Logan the ambassador of a healthy eating plan was a risky choice from the very beginning. Overhauling the eating habits of someone who comes precariously close to having excitement seizures in the vicinity of fried finger food, and who regularly trips over himself when running to the door to get his Domino’s, isn’t exactly a (self-proclaimed) nutritionist’s dream job. However, because many dudes share Logan’s absurd eating habits and are also the victims of nutritional idiocy, Logan turned out to be the ideal test-subject when it came to creating a healthy and sustainable lifestyle plan for confused dudes.
You may be wondering how many pounds Logan has lost since starting The Dude Diet last fall. I get asked that a lot, and I usually respond with something positive, yet noncommittal, such as, “Definitely somewhere between zero and twenty!” Like anyone else, the Dude yo-yos, and the truth is, weight ain’t nothin’ but a number. I’m less concerned with the reading on the scale (as long as it’s under a deuce), and more focused on keeping Logan alive past the age of 35. After all, the Dude Diet is a healthy lifestyle, not a get-thin-quick scheme. Thank God.
While Logan has lost actual poundage, I’m mostly impressed by the amount that he has learned about nutrition over the past year. Slowly, but surely, The Dude Diet’s teachings seem to be sinking in. Logan is making better choices, spending less money on Zantac, and hating on healthy food significantly less than he was at this time last year. Yes, he takes down a deep dish pizza or crushes six pounds of barbecue from time to time, and I still regularly get texts like the one I received yesterday: “IT’S MEXICAN FOR LUNCH. DADDY HAPPY!!!” (At some point Logan started referring to himself as “Daddy.” No explanation.) However, I take solace in the fact that when these things happen, he wipes the meat sweat from his brow, asks me to sew the seam on the jeans that he split up the crotch, and climbs right back on The Dude Diet wagon. It’s pretty inspirational.
While The Dude Diet has covered a lot of ground this year, there are still many more issues that need to be addressed. Dining out, Mexican food, responsible brunching, acceptable work lunches, and confidence building are just a few of the topics that yours truly will be taking on in the coming months, so please prepare yourselves for the continued onslaught of Dude Diet knowledge bombs. Until then, I’d like to revel in the success that The Dude Diet has enjoyed thus far and quickly say a few thank yous.
First, I would like to thank the Dude himself. Logan, thank you for being the wonderful and ridiculous human being that you are. I constantly shudder at the thought that I might have ended up with some super chiseled dude that went to the gym everyday and ate only clean, whole foods. Thank you for providing an endless source of Dude Diet inspiration, for trying to be less nutritionally inept, for laughing at yourself, and for dealing with your celebrity status with a moderate amount of humility. I honestly thought that I would become famous first, so I appreciate you not rubbing it in my face that my plan backfired. I really had no idea people would become so attached to you, but I guess I’m not that surprised. You’re pretty funny and you have a lot of chest hair, which some people find impressive. I love you. Let’s get Domino’s on Sunday.
To those of you who read The Dude Diet regularly/are on The Dude Diet/have put their significant others on The Dude Diet, you are the best. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that there are people out there laughing at my jokes, eating my food and turning their bodies into wonderlands. I live for your emails about Dude Diet successes, and I appreciate your support in my endeavor to rid the world of man boobs. I think I may have found my calling.
In order to celebrate The Dude Diet’s anniversary, I wanted to make something festive and appropriately dank. So, without further ado, I give you Southwestern Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers:
These stuffed peppers proudly represent The Dude Diet in all its glory. They are delicious, nutritious, and likely to induce high-pitched squeals of delight from adult males, which is the holy trinity of Dude Diet recipe requirements. When I informed Logan over the phone that I was making stuffed peppers, his breathing noticeably quickened, and I’m sure he creeped out numerous people on the street when he said, “Ohhhhhh yeah. Daddy LIKE!”
Sweet bell peppers stuffed with a hearty filling of lean ground turkey, quinoa, corn, black beans and jalapenos, baked until tender, and then topped with melted cheese? These are the things that the Dude’s dreams are made of. Spiced with a simple blend of cumin, oregano, and cayenne, these peppers are bursting with Southwestern flavor and healthy goodness. Each serving contains a solid amount of lean protein, fiber, whole grains, Vitamin-C and anti-oxidants, and that sprinkling of cheese is low-fat, dudes.
As with all Dude Diet recipes, these stuffed bell peppers are completely idiot-proof, and they can be ready in about 45 minutes. All you’ll need to whip up these badass flavor bombs is a knife, one large pan, a baking dish, and a little motivation. With minimal effort, you can be pulling piping hot peppers oozing with cheese from your oven in less time than it would take you to try to justify ordering Dominos for dinner on a weeknight (which has been known to take over an hour).
For those dudes who happen to be cooking for one (I love you), stuffed peppers are right up your alley. They can be easily prepped in advance, kept in the fridge or freezer, and then baked individually as needed. And your consumption of stuffed peppers need not be limited to lunch and dinner, friends. You can also crush them for breakfast with an egg on top, and they make perfectly portioned Dude Diet snacks. If you get bored easily (so high maintenance), chop up leftovers and wrap them in a vegetable tortilla for a slimming Southwestern burrito, or serve them over romaine for a not-so-stupid-salad. Boom.
Southwestern Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are great everyday Dude Diet fare, but don’t be scared to get fancy with them. I highly suggest serving these at your weird football soirees this fall or at a dude-heavy dinner party. I dressed up my stuffed peppers with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and fresh avocado, but there’s plenty of room for creativity, dudes. Try dousing these bad boys in chipotle Tabasco or adding scallions, crumbled turkey bacon, pickled jalapenos, a responsible amount of guac or a dollop of fat-free sour cream. I like the idea of setting out an array of toppings and letting guests get weird.
Southwestern Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers: (Serves 3 hungry dudes)
3 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeds removed (I like to use three different colors because it looks cool, but any color peppers will do.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ of a Spanish onion, minced
½ fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
¾ pound extra lean ground turkey
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ 15oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup reduced-fat Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
For garnish: (optional)
Freshly chopped cilantro
1 avocado, diced
Preparing your Southwestern Turkey and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers:
*Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
-Start by preparing your bell peppers. Slice each pepper in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush the inside of each pepper with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
-Add the black beans, cooked quinoa, fire roasted tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for two more minutes. Taste your stuffing, and season with salt and a little more cayenne pepper if you’re into spice.
-Stuff each bell pepper with the southwestern turkey and quinoa stuffing and place the peppers in an oven-proof skillet or baking dish. Pour the vegetable stock into the skillet or baking dish, and cover the dish with foil.
-Remove the foil from your baking dish. Combine the Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses and sprinkle the mixture on top of each stuffed pepper.
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