Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.


  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheeses, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Spoon the filling into each bell pepper cavity. Place on prepared baking dish, cavity side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes. (If you’re running short on time, microwave the empty bell peppers for two minutes before stuffing them, and then bake for 8-10 minutes).

History of Bell Peppers

Bell peppers, also called Capsicum annum, are members of the nightshade family of plants. Originating from South America, a wild variety of bell peppers had seeds that dated back to 5000 BC. Though bell peppers had been widely consumed in South America, Central America, and Mexico, it was Spanish explorers and Christopher Columbus who brought these peppers to Europe where they became popularized. Relatives of bell peppers in the nightshade family include tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. Paprika is the ground spice made from dried red bell peppers.

Medical Properties of Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water. Fresh bell peppers are made up of 92 percent water. Most notably, red bell peppers are especially high in vitamin C and the antioxidant capsanthin. One medium red bell pepper supplies 169 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Bell peppers also supply vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K1, folate, potassium, lutein, luteolin, quercetin, and violaxanthin. With the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in bell peppers, they are touted as a healthy food that also helps fight cancer and conditions like heart disease. In supplying a combination of both iron and vitamin C, bell peppers help fight iron anemia with vitamin C aiding the body in the absorption of iron. The antioxidant carotenoids of zeaxanthin and lutein found in bell peppers help protect eye health and against oxidative damage to the eyes.

Surprising Facts About Bell Peppers

Yellow, orange, and red bell peppers are really green bell peppers that have ripened and have increased in sweetness during the ripening process. Covering a large part of the color rainbow, bell peppers are available in red, orange, yellow, green, purple, white, and striped varieties. Red bell peppers boast a high vitamin C content – twice the amount contained in green bell peppers. Even with their bitter flavor, green bell peppers are the most popular bell pepper in the United States. Though many think that bell peppers are vegetables, they are actually fruits like others from the nightshade family. Yellow and red bell peppers contains four times the amount of vitamin C compared to oranges, and purple bell peppers have a similar bitter taste like green bell peppers.

See all recipes from the Cook & Learn series here.

Baked Avocado Tacos

Baked Avocado Tacos from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.



  • Oil for spraying pan and avocados
  • 2 large, ripe avocados, seeded and peeled
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) panko bread crumbs
  • ½ tbsp (7 mL) chipotle rub
  • 10-12 corn or flour tortillas

Slaw & Sauce

  • 5 oz (150 g) radishes, trimmed
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
  • ½ lime
  • ⅓ cup (75 mL) fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup (125 mL) 2% plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • ⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Spray pan with oil
  2. Cut the avocados into slices. Lay the avocado slices on a cutting board.
  3. Combine the panko and rub in one tray. Lightly spray the avocado slices with oil. Dip 4–5 avocado slices at a time in the panko mixture and coat on both sides.
  4. Place the avocado slices on the pan and bake for 10–12 minutes, or until they’re light golden brown and crispy.
  5. For the slaw, grate the radishes and carrot into a small bowl.
  6. Zest the lime to measure ½ tbsp (7 mL) and set it aside. Juice the lime. Grate the cilantro. Add the lime juice and 1½ tbsp (22 mL) of the cilantro to the mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
  7. For the sauce, combine the Greek yogurt, lime zest, salt, and remaining cilantro in a small bowl.
  8. Transfer the pan from the oven to a cooling rack. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds, or until warmed.
  9. Spread the sauce onto the tortillas. Place 2 avocado slices on each tortilla and top with slaw.

History of Avocado

Experts believe that avocados – from the Persea americana tree – originated almost 10,000 years ago in the South Central state of Mexico called Puebla. And researchers think that domestication of the avocado tree to grow avocados occurred around 5,000 years ago. Along with its value as a food source, avocados were also prized for their perceived ability to provide mythological powers in ancient Aztec culture. Avocados were later introduced in the 1500s to the people of Europe by Spanish explorers who encountered them in North America, Central America, and South America.

Medical Properties of Avocado

Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats – including vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, monosaturated fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The oleic acid contained in monosaturated fatty acids in avocados are linked to lower inflammation in the body and positive effects on genes associated with cancer, and potassium supplied by avocados is connected with reduced blood pressure. Avocados are touted for being heart-healthy with studies linking them to reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The fiber supplied by avocados – with 75 percent being insoluble fiber – aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Even the fat contained in avocados assists in the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K and with antioxidants like carotenoids. The carotenoids of zeaxanthijn and lutein in avocados have been connected to reduction in degeneration of eyesight and lower rates of cataracts. Avocados also contain glutathione, which aids in function of a healthy immune system.

Surprising Facts About Avocado

An average size avocado contains 9 grams of fiber, which is the most among all fruits. Avocados actually belong to the same plant family as cinnamon – Lauraceae, commonly known as laurels. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas – weighing in at 975 milligrams per avocado compared to 544 milligrams of potassium per banana. Avocados were known as alligator pears in the U.S. until the U.S. Department of Agriculture renamed them as avocados. The summer of 2017 was especially memorable in the history of the avocado when over 3 million avocado toast photos were uploaded daily to Instagram.

See all recipes from the Cook & Learn series here.

Healthy Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

Healthy Garlic Mushroom Quinoa from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan


  1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add garlic, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper, and cooking, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in cooked quinoa until well combined
  4. Garnish with parmesan and serve

History of Mushrooms

Sometimes categorized as a vegetable, mushrooms are a member of the fungus family of organisms that also includes truffles and the microorganisms of molds and yeasts. For centuries during the early times of mushroom consumption, generally people of the Eastern portion of the world ate mushrooms, while the people of the Western portion of the world did not. And mushrooms have not only been eaten for their flavor but have also been used for their hallucinogenic effects in spiritual and religious ceremonies by the Vikings, Siberian shamans, and in ancient Mexico. The native people of Mexico used them to generate hallucinations that they deemed as visions of the future. The people of France are known in history for introducing mushrooms into Western cuisine. As for the U.S., Americans began serving mushrooms in cuisine in the late 1800s.

Medical Properties of Mushrooms

In addition to their use in Eastern cuisine, mushrooms have been part of Eastern medicine for thousands of years. The reishi mushroom has gained popularity in recent years for its medicinal properties, which may include aiding in weight loss, improving sleep, lessening depression and anxiety, fighting cancer, boosting the immune system, improving focus, and even promoting healing. Studies on chaga mushrooms show that they may help in lowering cholesterol levels, decreasing inflammation in the body, and fighting against oxidative that causes skin aging. Shiitake mushrooms are known for their ability to lower cholesterol, and phytonutrients help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries and aid in maintaining healthy circulation and blood pressure in the body. Lion’s mane mushrooms are known for their ability to boost production of myelin and the bioprotein nerve growth factor that are vital to brain function, and consumption has been shown to alleviate irritability and anxiety and to improve concentration, mental clarity, cognition, and memory. Mushrooms also supply potassium, protein, and polysaccharides, which boost immune function in the body.

Surprising Facts About Mushrooms

Due to their meaty consistency, vegetarians use portobello mushrooms as a replacement for meat. Recent research has utilized mushrooms in varied and surprising ways. Mighty mushrooms are used to turn waste from crops into bioethanol and to clean up toxic waste and oil spills. Materials made from mushrooms have been used as replacements for leather, foam, polystyrene, and building materials. A mushroom has even been discovered that can break down plastics in weeks instead of years.

See all recipes from the Cook & Learn series here.

Zesty Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

Zesty Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Recipe: Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts


  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 1TBS fresh thyme leaves
  • 1TBS fresh chopped parsley leaves
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil & sprinkle salt and pepper
  3. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet
  4. Place cut side facing down Bake for 30 minutes
  5. Toss half way through
  6. Serve warm spritzed with more lemon juice and top with parmesan cheese

History of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, also known as Brussel sprouts, are named after the city in Belgium. Historians believe that they were first grown there in the 16th century and then were introduced to North America by French settlers in Louisiana in the 18th century. Though the flavor of Brussels sprouts is disliked by some – most likely due to a bitter flavor from overcooking – they have a nutty sweet flavor when roasted. With their resemblance to cabbages, Brussels sprouts are also referred to as mini cabbages and remain a favorite among top chefs like Jacques Pepin and many others.

Medical Properties of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are rich in several important nutrients for the body including folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and the carotenoids of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They are also very good sources of manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetable family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and cabbage. The processes of cooking and digestion break down to a phytochemical called isothiocyanate that researchers have discovered to have anti-cancer effects in fighting against DNA damage and against growth within tumor cells. Medical experts tout Brussels sprouts for their role in helping with bone and skin health, lowering cholesterol, balancing hormone levels, improving digestion, reducing oxidative stress, decreasing the risk of obesity and diabetes, protecting the heart, reducing inflammation, aiding the immune system, and increasing circulation. Though Brussels sprouts may help fight cancer, experts recommend limiting dietary intake to once a week and to rotate other vegetables into your diet as well.

Surprising Facts About Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C, and one serving of them delivers four times more than an orange. Researchers have found that Brussels sprouts contain Indole-3-carbinol that is a libido booster in men but can have the opposite effect in women. Shoppers can sometimes find Brussels sprouts at grocery stores and farmers markets attached to the stalks that they grow on. Keeping the sprouts on their stalks helps to retain moisture and to nourish the sprouts after harvesting.


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