Healthy Poblano Pepper Recipes -- Low-Fat Stuffed Chiles
Weight Loss Menu: Quick Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Mozzarella Cheese
Pre-cooking poblano chiles makes this tasty cheese-stuffed pepper dish a quick meal for weight loss. Cutting calories can be challenging enough, without the hassles of complicated menus, foods you don't like or bland meals.
Poblano chiles offer a satisfying spiciness, low calories and a delicious way to eat more vegetables. Poblanos are wider and darker green than Anaheim chiles and much milder in flavor than jalapeno chiles. They have more flavor and a bit of a bite compared to bell peppers. These wide peppers are shaped a bit like an elf hat, thick at the stem end and tapered at the tip. The wide opening makes them easy to stuff with fresh mozzarella cheese.
Fresh Poblano Chiles Create Flavorful Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed Poblano Peppers Ingredients
- Poblano Chiles
- Fresh Mozarella Cheese
- Olive oil or coconut oil
- Salsa (optional)
- Cilantro (optional)
- Plain yogurt (optional)
Cook Poblano Chiles
Cook the cleaned poblano chiles in a covered saucepan until they are tender, yet still firm. Overcooking will cause the poblano chiles to fall apart. They'll still taste great, but won't hold together to be stuffed. Precooking the chiles in water reduces the fat content of the recipe, because the chiles aren't soaking up excess oil.
Drain the chiles in a colander. Pick each chile pepper up by the tip with cooking tongs. Hold it upside down so that the water drains out of the opening.
Move the chiles to a preheated skillet oiled with a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil. Olive oil has a low smoking point, so keep the heat below medium if you use it.
Tip: Cooking several poblano chiles ahead of time and storing them in the fridge gives you a quick way to create a stuffed-peppers weight-loss meal or healthy breakfast. In addition to making a delicious and lower-calorie alternative to chiles rellenos, pre-cooked poblano chiles work well for adding a mild spiciness to omelets, scrambled eggs and stir-fries.
Select shiny poblano chiles free of dark spots and wrinkles. The black spots that develop on poblanos show that the chiles are old. The same is true when the chile appears withered. A fresh poblano chile looks glossy and feels firm, not squishy.
Cut the stem out of the chili by inserting the knife between the stem cap and the chile. Cut around the cap in a circle and pull the stem to remove it. Scrape the inside gently with a knife, without cutting through the chile to help remove the seeds. Shake the chile upside down over the sink or compost container to make the seeds fall out.
Stuff the Peppers
Push slices or balls of fresh mozzarella into the opening of each chile. Use 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of cheese for each pepper, depending on the size of the chile, and your diet. Fresh mozzarella packed in water offers a creamier texture for stuffed peppers than hard balls of mozzarella.
Cover the skillet and cook the stuffed peppers at a low to medium heat, checking the peppers every couple of minutes. Checking often reduces the risk of over-melting the cheese.Turn each chile over gently when the cheese begins to melt.Pour salsa over the chiles and cover the skillet for another one or two minutes. This warms the salsa, bringing all the flavors together.
Stuffed Pepper Toppings:
- Chipotle salsa adds a smoky savor to stuffed poblano chiles.
- Salsa verde, made with green tomotillos, tends to be lower in carbohydrates than red tomato salsas, if you're reducing carbs or seeking lower-glycemic condiments.
- Plain yogurt creates a cooling complement to salsa and chiles -- with far fewer calories from fat than sour cream. Greek yogurt gives a pleasing, thick texture as a sour cream-substitute. With a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or paprika and a sprig of cilantro on top, a dollop of yogurt creates a picture-perfect easy stuffed pepper meal.
Poblano Chiles Serving Suggestions
Serve the stuffed peppers with fresh cilantro and grape tomatoes for a colorful and flavorful edible garnish.
Add a side of green salad with each meal. A drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice create a tasty dressing that goes well with the chile main dish.
Slice a quarter of a Hass avocado and fan the slices out over the chiles or the salad to give the meal an attractive presentation. Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). Preliminary research suggests that moderate MUFA intake helps to prevent and reduce belly fat.
Mozzarella cheese contains less fat, and saturated fat, than most full-fat cheeses such as jack and cheddar. It also has significantly less sodium than most cheeses.
Because of its soft texture, it creates a creamy complement to chiles. Although it's a bit stringier than high-fat cheeses, it offers a satisfying cheese flavor and texture with less fat. Diets high in saturated fat are associated with heart disease.
Reducing sodium when you're dieting helps to show off your hard work -- excess sodium in the diet promotes water retention and can give you a bloated appearance.
Mozzarella cheese provides calcium, a key nutrient for maintaining strong bones.
Stuffed Pepper Variations and Substitutions April 2012
- Substitute red or green bell peppers when you have them on hand. Use organic, if possible. Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, but commercial bell peppers are high in pesticides.
- Substitute a low-fat jack cheese or cheddar cheese. Smother the stuffed-chiles in your favorite heated salsa.
- Use pepper jack in the poblano chiles for a treat, and reduce the amount of cheese you use to keep the fat level as low as possible. Jack cheese usually has 8 grams of fat per ounce -- about a 1-inch cube -- compared to 5 grams of fat in fresh mozzarella.
- Make your own salsa with mild anaheim chiles, smoky-hot habaneros or diced jalapenos to go with the stuffed chiles. In a pinch, I added mild diced chiles to tomato sauce and added cayenne pepper for heat.
- Fresh herbs, spices and vegetables are healthy sources of antioxidants that protect your body against cell damage from free radicals.
- Preliminary research suggests that peppers can help boost metabolism to promote weight loss.
- If you want to maintain or gain weight, it's still a good idea to use moderation in consuming saturated fat from cheese and other animal foods for heart health. Try limiting cheese to three or four ounces a day.
- Serve the chiles with a side of beans for more protein and fiber. Mashing the beans with a potato masher makes them easier to digest.
Weight Loss Menu Tips
- Because cheese is a calorie-dense food, even in lower-fat versions, it's best to limit cheese to a maximum of three to four ounces a day.
- Eat one to three servings of vegetables with every meal. Vegetables are low in calorie density, meaning you can eat larger servings while consuming relatively few calories. Vegetables contain healthy antioxidants that help to protect your body from damage, fiber and enzymes to assist your digestion -- and they help you to feel full so you can eat less of the foods that are higher in calories, without feeling deprived.
- Use the minimum amount of oil needed to keep food from sticking to the pan. Foods, including healthy vegetables, soak up the oils you cook them in. So to keep your food lower in fat, use less oil.
Healthy Low-Fat Recipe: Mozzarella-stuffed Poblano Chiles -- Author's Note
This is my recipe. It's something I came up with to satisfy my hunger for one of the foods I grew up with -- chile rellenos. My mother and grandmother were inventive cooks, and learned recipes from local women from Mexico. Once upon a time during my years of working my way through college I cooked professionally. One of the most mind-expanding experiences during my years in restaurants came from working under an Indonesian chef who trained in Mexico. I was 19, and became the head cook at that restaurant on the weekends, cooking brunch, lunch and dinners featuring vegetarian and seafood options -- from authentic gado gado to red snapper with salsa fresca. These influences and many others have made me adventurous with food.
I struggled with a weight problem since childhood, and finally in my forties created a food program and workouts to lose the excess weight and become free of obesity. I don't "diet." Healthy meals of fresh whole foods are my mainstays, giving me energy and focus for hours of writing.
This is my first published recipe. I hope you enjoy it -- and that it inspires you on your own adventures with food and caring for yourself. Namaste.
-- Trent, aka HikeGuy, Northern California
Updated April 30, 2012
Copyright Travis Arts 2011, 2012, all rights reserved.
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