January 29, 2019
This is about...
Loaded Bell Pepper NACHOS!
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        WHEN IT COMES TO THE SUPER BOWL, I'M NOT TUNING IN FOR THE GAME. I like watching the commercials and the half-time show. AND MOST OF ALL?--I LIKE ALL OF THE MUNCHIES AND THE JUNK FOOD. The problem is that 3-4 hours of picking on wings, chips and dip, pizza, cookies, and who knows what else, can add up to a stadium's worth of calories and always some post Super Bowl regret.
        THESE "NACHOS" ARE A LIGHTER VERSION of the traditional by substituting--OF ALL THINGS --MINI BELL PEPPER HALVES for the chips. I say why not? Since you can still go to town with all of the toppings, your nachos will be attending the party, just significantly slimmed down. And, there are variations galore. Make it purely veggie with any beans or cheeses you like, sour cream, salsa and jalepenos. Or, make the carnivores happy by adding some shredded rotisserie chicken or seasoned, browned ground meat or sausage.
        ALL TOLD, THE FINAL SCORE? 6 0f these loaded nachos weigh in at around 150 calories, as opposed to regular nachos with 10 chips that will weigh in at anywhere from 350 to 500 calories! ---not to mention cutting the carbs way back. PLUS, IF YOU DOUBLE THE AMOUNT to 12 bell pepper nachos, YOU'VE GOT A DELICIOUS, HEALTHY MEAL.
        But, if you just can't bear to eliminate the chips, which I can totally understand, try going half bell pepper and 1/2 chips. Plus remember this is a template. IF YOU WANT MORE OR LESS OF ANY TOPPINGS, IT'S YOUR SUPER BOWL PARTY--GO FOR THAT TOUCHDOWN! But now, back to the instant replay---yes, you can over indulge and not worry about the scale the next morning. GO TEAM!? Well, don't ask me which teams are playing--I have no idea.

LESSONS Learned:
1. If you can't find the mini bell peppers in your supermarket (although even here in the woods I can find them), cut the regular sized red, green and/or yellow bell peppers into 6ths or 8ths.
2. Use melon baller, small spoon or your thumb to remove the seeds and membranes from the mini peppers.
3. To keep this calorie conscious, opt for the reduced fat versions of the cheese and sour cream. But since the chips are gone, it will still be lower calorie even if you use the regular versions.
4. Kick it up another notch and add 8 oz. browned and seasoned extra-lean ground beef, shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked sausage
5. Nacho up any veggie. Roast broccoli or cauliflower florets, sweet potato slices, etc. and load them up!

(inspired by The Hungry Girl)

12-15 sweet mini bell peppers, 8-10 ounces
2/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (or more ) grated Cheddar cheese or any other of your choosing, reduced-fat optional, about 2 1/2 ounces
2 Tablespoons seeded and minced jalapeño pepper, or more or less to taste
1/3 cup salsa
1/4 cup light sour cream
2 tbsp. thinly sliced scallions
Optional garnish: avocado/guacolmole and chopped cilantro

Make the Nachos:
        Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, or line with parchment. I like parchment for easy removal from the pan.
        Cut off the stem end of each pepper. Cut in half lengthwise, and using a small spoon, melon baller or your thumb, remove the seeds and membranes. Lay them cut side down on the baking sheet with space between them, and bake for 5 minutes. Flip them over with cut side up, and bake for another 5-7 minutes until softened.
        Push them closer to the center with their edges touching. Top with the beans, cheese, and jalapeño pepper. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. And then switch to the broiler for another 2-3 minutes to lightly brown the top.
        Dollop all over with the salsa, sour cream, and scallions. If desired, garnish with the avocado and cilantro.

Makes 4 appetizer servings or 2 regular servings.      YUM!
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