Good Food/Good Health
Week of February 27, 2006

A Creole Dish For Mardi Gras

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

Whether you celebrate Mardi Gras this year in its traditional hometown or elsewhere, you can mark the festivities with a Creole dish, including one you can easily make yourself.

In the 18th century, the Spanish who governed New Orleans called all residents of European heritage criollo. The name evolved into “Creole” and implied refinement, culture and elegance.

Today, Creole cooking suggests influences of Spanish, French and African cuisines. It is considered more sophisticated than Cajun cooking. Creole food traditionally uses a lot of butter and cream while Cajun food features pork fat.

Neither style of cooking, however, needs to be high in fat.

Creole cooking uses tomatoes and Cajun cooking has more spices. Both include green peppers, onions and celery. All of these ingredients provide flavor without fat. A Creole or Cajun dish actually has many of the requisites of healthful eating, including vegetables, rice and beans.

Sweet green bell peppers, for example, are a good source of vitamin C and provide some vitamin A as well. Green peppers are simply immature red peppers. Stuffed with brown rice, beans, onions, cheese and corn, peppers can make a Creole-style main dish that’s filling and healthful.

Basmati rice is known for its fine texture and nut-like flavor and aroma. Brown basmati offers the unrefined, whole grain, which provides far more fiber, vitamins, minerals and natural phytochemicals than refined grains, thus helping to reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease. Brown basmati rice is available in many grocery and specialty stores. The rice keeps the stuffed peppers in the recipe below fluffy and light. Yet this Creole-style dish makes a meatless entrée that is both tasty and filling. It is a fitting way to mark Mardi Gras, or to serve any day in the Lenten weeks that traditionally follow.

Creole Stuffed Peppers 4 medium green bell peppers
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup frozen, drained canned or fresh corn kernels
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Cut tops off the bell peppers and remove seeds. Reserve tops. If necessary, to help peppers stand firmly, trim a slice off bottom, taking care not to cut through. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine rice, beans, corn, onion, cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spoon filling into bell peppers, packing lightly and mounding tops. Place the peppers in a baking dish and cover with reserved tops. Place baking dish on middle rack in oven. Carefully add water to baking dish to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.

Bake until peppers are soft when pierced with knife, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pepper tops and discard. In small bowl, combine oil and lemon juice. Spoon mixture over peppers. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 293 calories, 7 g. total fat (3g. saturated fat), 48 g. carbohydrates, 10 g. protein, 9 g. dietary fiber, 362466 mg sodium.

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, MondayFriday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $75 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International. All active news articles