During our recent cooking class, we made recipes that are heart-healthy and contain ingredients to help fight cancer in honor of National Heart Month and Cancer Prevention Month. While no single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself, strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.

With that in mind, our recipes this month contained nutritious ingredients like quinoa, bell peppers, avocados, zucchini and bananas. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends filling at least 2/3 of your plate with these plant based ingredients, so eat up and enjoy!

Quinoa & Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or homemade)
  • 6 small bell peppers, mixed colors, seeded and halved
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 small firm eggplant, trimmed of half the skin, chopped
  • 1 medium firm zucchini, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 fresh Chile pepper, such as Fresno, thinly sliced or 1 tsp dried crushed pepper
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves (a handful), chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta or ricotta salata cheese

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

  1. Bring quinoa and stock to a boil. Cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
  2. Drizzle the bell pepper halves with olive oil and season both sides with salt & pepper. Roast cut-side down until the skins begin to char and the peppers are just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Then arrange in a baking dish, cut-side up.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Add garlic, eggplant, zucchini, onions and chilies and season with salt & pepper. Cook partially covered until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add the herbs and tomatoes and combine with the quinoa.
  4. Fill the pepper halves with the quinoa and vegetable stuffing and drizzle with olive oil. Cool and chill to a “make-ahead meal”. To serve, roast in 375 degree oven until the peppers are hot through. Serve topped with cheese crumbles (feta or ricotta).

Source: Rachel Ray

Avocado and Banana Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (TRY: Simply Organic Ground Cinnamon)

Preparation:

  1. Place banana, avocado and cocoa powder in work bowl of a food processor. Process until just a few chunks remains, about 1 minute.
  2. With processor running, pour maple syrup through feed tube and process until completely smooth, scraping down bowl as needed, about 1 minute.
  3. Add vanilla (if using) and cinnamon and process until combined, about 10 seconds.
  4. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.