Craving the flavors of the Southwest this Cinco de Mayo? These Tex-Mex style stuffed peppers are a vegan spin on a classic dish. Full of flavor, but low in protein and sodium. A perfect combination for a kidney-friendly meal-in-one!
As an added bonus, this recipe can be made ahead and stores well in the freezer. Read on to find out how to get a head start on dinner.
Vegan stuffed peppers: Easy to make ahead and freezer-friendly!
Finding kidney-friendly frozen meals and convenience foods can be challenging to say the least! Many of the choices found at the grocery store can be chock full of sodium, not to mention other preservatives. While there are some acceptable frozen meal options out there, cooking at home is one of the best ways to slash sodium.
However, we know that life can get busy. Having a few meal options that only require a re-heat is essential for those hectic days! Planning ahead is the secret to success in making healthy food choices. That’s why we are big fans of meal prepping and these vegan stuffed peppers are an ideal choice for a make ahead or freezer-friendly meal!
Make Ahead Instructions
Looking to get ahead over the weekend for an upcoming busy week? An easy way to get a jump start is to make the filling for the peppers ahead of time.
To Refrigerate and Reheat:
- Prepare the recipe through step #6.
- Let the roasted peppers and filling cool separately.
- Store each component in a Ziplock or airtight container for up to 4 days.
- When ready to prepare continue on with step #7.
Already preparing this recipe? Why not double the stuffing ingredients to get ahead on a meal for the future?
To do this, double the ingredients for the stuffing. Allow half of the stuffing mixture to cool to room temperature (approximately 30-60 minutes). When cooling a rice mixture, it helps to spread it out on a sheet pan. Store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use, let the mixture defrost overnight in the fridge. Prepare peppers from fresh per recipe instructions
Prepare the recipe as instructed through the first half of step #7, skipping the final baking step. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Freeze unbaked stuffed peppers in a baking dish covered tightly with a lid or with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw overnight in the fridge. Take out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking and remove plastic wrap if necessary. Bake covered with foil at 375℉ for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Looking for guidance on a low protein, plant-based diet for CKD?
It can be tricky to know where to start. Your body has specific protein, calorie, and nutrient needs. Eating too much or too little can be dangerous for your health. A Renal Dietitian can help you understand these amounts and help you reach your nutrient goals. Join our free monthly class or book a consultation with one of our expert Renal Dietitians to help make the journey to a low-protein, plant-based diet much easier to follow.
This recipe is packed (or should I say stuffed?) with flavor and vegetables. For a more filling meal, feel free to top with diced avocado, guacamole, or our Avocado Crema or enjoy with a side salad. Note that this recipe is higher in potassium because we rely on the tomato sauce for flavor balance and moisture.
Recipe developed by Clarissa Paimanta, RD and tested by Jessica Prohn, MS, RD, CSR, LDN.
- 4 medium red bell peppers
- 5 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¾ cup tomato sauce, no salt added
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups kale, tough ribs removed then chopped
- ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups cooked white rice (leftover rice works well)
- ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
- Optional toppings: cilantro, dairy-free yogurt, diced avocado, or lime juice
1. Preheat oven to 375℉. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
2. Prepare each bell pepper by laying it on its side and carefully slicing off the top along with the stem. Reserve the top for later. Use a small knife to remove all the seeds and any excess pith inside the pepper.
3. Coat the bell pepper inside and out with about 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. Carefully remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven, place the pepper cut side down on the baking sheet, then bake for 13-15 minutes. Once tender, remove the peppers and place them cut side up.
4. Meanwhile, take the tops of the bell peppers and trim off the remaining flesh around the stem. Dice the peppers and discard the stem.
5. In a sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of avocado oil over medium heat. Then add diced peppers and sliced onions. Cook while stirring occasionally until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
6. Add garlic and cook while stirring for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Then add all the spices, tomato sauce, water, kale, black beans, and rice. Mix well then let simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the kale is wilted and tender. Make sure everything is coated in the sauce. Season with salt to taste. If making ahead, the filling may be cooled and refrigerated/frozen at this stage.
7. Use a spoon to stuff the peppers with the rice mixture until it creates a little mound on the top. Drizzle the remaining oil over the stuffed peppers, then place back in the oven for another 15-18 minutes or until the peppers reach desired doneness.
8. To serve, top with a sprinkle of cilantro, an optional dollop of dairy-free yogurt, diced avocado, or a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!
Lower Potassium Variation: Instead of stuffing the rice into one whole pepper, pile the filling onto half a bell pepper per portion to lower potassium to 490 mg. Substituting chickpeas for black beans further lowers potassium to 427 mg per serving.
Higher Protein Version: If you are on dialysis or don’t require a very low protein diet, consider increasing the amount of beans to one-15 ounce can. This will increase the protein to 11 grams per serving. * Note that this will increase the overall calories, sodium, and potassium.
You may have heard that nuts, beans, and whole grains are not a great choice for a kidney-friendly diet because they are high in phosphorus. Wondering why we include them in many of our recipes? We include beans, nuts, and whole grains because only about 40% of phosphorus found in these plant foods are absorbed by humans. This makes them a good fit for most people’s diets! If you have questions about adding these foods to your diet, please reach out to your dietitian.
This recipe for Tex-Mex style stuffed peppers was a home-run in my house for a variety of reasons. Not only was it delicious and satisfying, but it covered all of the components of a balanced meal. A true meal- in-one made with minimal clean-up and as an added bonus, leftovers for the next day!
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