Autumn Stuffed Peppers

Autumn is the season of harvest, as with everything in nature, it’s a time to turn your focus inward and reflect…on gratitude, self-awareness, and focused preparation for the stillness of winter. The essence of the foods we eat is often received through our strong sense of smell, and our appetite can be stimulated by the warm fragrance of these foods, especially at this time of year when the windows are closed and the aroma carries through the house. According to research, there are emotional links tied to food consumption whereby the reaction associated with reflection and experience by an individual can take him or her back to an ideal past moment. This reflection comes not only from objects and sounds, but also from smell and taste. Perhaps that is why certain smells evoke feelings of nostalgia and idealism as we approach the holidays.

As a teenager, I can remember coming home from practice after school to the scent of dinner permeating throughout the house. It’s a time I look back on fondly, and one I’m trying hard to instill in my own children as an important part of life in our present moment. It seems like in this day and age we spend so much time chauffeuring the kids from one activity to another, rushing through homework, reading, showers, and the one thing the kids want to rush through is the family dinner. Little do they know these are the moments they will cherish one day, the time we spend eating together as a family and sharing our day with one another. Pretty soon, one or more members of the family will go off to college and move out of the family house permanently. If time could stand still for just a moment, we might be able to teach our children to be grateful for these moments that they seem to want to rush through. But time doesn’t stand still for anyone.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re signing up for too many activities that you can’t even breathe. Make time to breathe. Make time to slow down and be grateful. As I learned recently in an insightful community program presented by the Governor Mifflin School District on the adolescent brain, far too many of us, both adults and children, are in overdrive and unable to experience life’s simplest pleasures. Take in all that beautiful Berks County has to offer us. A glorious view of Neversink Mountain with the changing leaves; the smell of the fall harvest vegetables sautéing on your stovetop; the sound of your children laughing. If we can all just take a few more moments to consciously teach our children gratitude for life’s simplest pleasures, I promise you that sense of nostalgia will carry forward for generations.

I love the smell that permeates through the house with this “meatless stuffed pepper”. It a good one to make ahead and then heat up when you’re in a hurry.

Autumn Stuffed Peppers
1/2 cup quinoa
1 small onion
2 cups mushrooms
3 bell peppers
3 cloves garlic
1 small bunch bok choy
1 small zucchini
reggiano parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top
braggs liquid aminos (for sautéing)
small bunch fresh parsley

Prepare quinoa according to package directions. It should take about 20 minutes. In the meantime, clean and chop vegetables (chop fairly small), and sauté on the stovetop using 1-2 tbsp. braggs liquid aminos. Mince the garlic and add that in the final 2-3 minutes of cooking (turn down the heat when you add the garlic). Only sauté the vegetables until they are just barely softened. Since they’re going in the oven, we don’t want to over cook them. Fold them into the quinoa and add about 2-3 tbsp. into each pepper half. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cover to keep moist. At 35 minutes, uncover and add a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top, cook for about 5-8 more minutes until the cheese just begins to melt.

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