Beef and Black Olive Stuffed Peppers RecipeBeef and Black Olive Stuffed Peppers


beef and black olive stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers provide a one-dish meal that is loaded with plenty of protein and vegetables. Make this recipe as it is, or use it as a base and add your own twist. Create a vegetarian version by substituting black beans or mushrooms for beef. You can also swap brown rice or quinoa for the orzo. Add an international spin with Greek spices and feta cheese instead of mozzarella.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 stuffed pepper
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.6g
14%Saturated Fat 2.8g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 298mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.6g
Dietary Fiber 3.5g
Sugars 8.1g
Protein 11.4g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 25 minutes


  • ¼ lb. lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped black olives
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) no-salt-added, diced tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked orzo pasta
  • ¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 4 medium-sized bell peppers, any color


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add the ground beef and cook for 3 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes more. Add the black olives and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 more minutes, or until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the beef is no longer pink.
  3. Add the garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Stir in the orzo pasta and turn off the burner.
  4. Prepare the peppers by determining if they are best standing straight up creating a cup, or if they are best on the side creating a boat. It’s okay to have a mixture of both. Place the peppers in the position you will stuff them and cut off the top quarter of the peppers. Remove the seeds, stems, and any large ribs inside the peppers.
  5. Select a 2 to 3 inch deep baking dish that will fit all your peppers and keep them close together while baking. A small 7 x 10 inch casserole dish or a loaf pan works well. Spray the dish with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Arrange the peppers cut-side up in the dish.
  6. Spoon about ½ cup of the beef mixture into each pepper. The amount you add may vary depending on the size and shape of each pepper. Pack the stuffing in and mound it slightly above the rim of the pepper. Top each stuffed pepper with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned, and the pepper begins to shrivel and become tender. Serve warm.

Ab Workout TipsAb Workout Tips


ab workout

Give your abdominal muscles the attention they deserve. Follow these tips to get a strong core and flat abs.

Types of exercises

Ab exercises have evolved from those that target one area (crunches) to those that engage multiple muscle groups (plank). Despite which type is currently trendy, both will strengthen your abs. Research sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that the bicycle maneuver, captain’s chair, and crunch on exercise ball are the top three most effective ab exercises. That being said, abdominals rarely work alone and training them with the muscles of the lower back and lower body helps to create a strong core. Incorporate more full body ab exercises, such as high knee lifts, planks with leg lifts, and burpees.

Frequency of workouts

You should train your abdominals no differently than you train other muscles. Do ab exercises 2-3 times per week allowing 1 to 2 rest days in between workouts. Fitness professionals recommend anywhere from 10 to 20 repetitions and 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. Switch up your routine and incorporate new exercises every 4 to 6 weeks to keep your muscles challenged.

Beyond strength training

Abdominal exercises are important for a strong core, but they are just one part of a bigger picture. Cardiovascular exercise, food and drinks, and posture also play a role in your fitness and appearance. Cardio exercise helps to burn the calories required to reduce fat around your stomach and expose muscle. High sodium foods and carbonated beverages can cause water retention and bloating making the stomach appear larger. Poor posture can also cause your stomach to bulge. Pull your shoulders back and contract your abs when you feel yourself beginning to slouch.

Tips to Overcome Weight Loss PlateausTips to Overcome Weight Loss Plateaus


overcoming weight loss plateaus

Weight loss plateaus are common, but they don’t have to stop you from reaching your fitness goals.

What Is a Plateau?

As you lose weight, your daily calorie requirement will decrease because it takes fewer calories for a smaller body to function. For example, let’s say you currently need 2,300 calories to maintain your weight. If you eat 1,800 calories per day you will lose weight. As you lose the weight, your body may eventually reach the point where 1,800 calories are all it needs to maintain your new, lower weight, causing your weight loss to stall (the plateau).

Stay Honest

People sometimes confuse a true weight loss plateau with simply straying from their healthy plan. Tufts University nutrition professor, Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., says that her work in weight loss research shows true plateaus occur after 6 months or more of being on a weight loss plan. If this is when you plateau, then it is likely due to the metabolic changes of reaching a lower weight.

If your weight loss stalls after only a few weeks of healthy eating and exercise, it’s possible that you were rapidly losing water at the beginning of your program. Now your body is trying to lose fat. Ask yourself some questions and make changes where necessary. Are you recording everything you eat? Have you lowered the intensity of your workouts? It’s important to be specific during this phase to account for any extra calories that may keep you from losing weight.

Plan for It

Plateaus are a reality of weight loss so make a plan for how you will address them. Create a list of motivational quotes to keep you inspired or think of new exercises to add variety. Plan to give up a leisure activity (such as watching television) so you can exercise more. Set an appointment at a wellness center, spa, or with a nutritionist to reduce stress, get tips, and renew your positive attitude.

Back to Basics

When you face a plateau, it’s time to get technical. Use your MyFoodDiary account to determine how many calories you need to maintain your new weight and for continued weight loss. Women should eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day and men no fewer than 1,700 calories per day. You may need to adjust your habits in other ways than simply eating less:

  • Step up the intensity of your workouts. It’s time to move to the next class level, increase the weight you lift, or finally start adding hills to your walk or run.
  • Adjust your nutrient intake. Perhaps you have been on the lower end of the suggested range for protein intake, or on the higher end of the range for carbohydrate intake. Try eating more lean proteins and fewer refined grains. If you eat very little fat, consider adding more olive oil or nuts to your eating plan.
  • Get out the food scale and measuring cups. It’s easy for portion sizes to gradually increase when you eyeball a measurement.

Modify Your Goals

If you are close to your goal, you might decide that you feel healthy and energized at this new weight. It’s okay to go into maintenance now. This is why we have a healthy weight range. You might feel your best at the higher end of the range.

If you still have more weight to lose, be patient with yourself. For the next few weeks make it a goal to maintain your weight instead of losing. This will reduce stress and frustration as you adjust your plan. Once you find what changes help you break through the plateau, you can resume with weekly weight loss goals.

Almond Cherry Steel-cut Oatmeal RecipeAlmond Cherry Steel-cut Oatmeal


Almond Cherry Steel-cut Oatmeal Recipe

If you think you don't like oatmeal, this healthy recipe may change your mind. Steel-cut oats have a firm, almost chewy, texture that barely resembles cooked rolled oats. Oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan that has been found to lower cholesterol levels. Almonds are rich in the healthy fats that are associated with a reduced risk for heart disease. Tart cherries are packed with antioxidants, and research shows they can reduce inflammation and speed recovery after strenuous exercise.

Tips for the cook: Steel-cut oats should be prepared on the stovetop, and they take longer to cook than old fashioned oats. To save time, make larger batches, refrigerate leftover portions, and reheat them in the microwave on busy mornings.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.3g
4%Saturated Fat 0.8g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 75mg
Total Carbohydrate 42g
Dietary Fiber 5.5g
Sugars 11.4g
Protein 6.6g
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup dry, steel-cut oats
  • 1/3 cup 100% tart cherry juice
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw almonds


  1. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the steel-cut oats. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until the oats begin to thicken. Reduce the heat and let the oats simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often. Cook less time for thinner oats, and longer for thicker oats. (Keep in mind the cherry juice will thin them slightly.)
  2. Remove the oatmeal from the heat. Stir in the cherry juice, brown sugar, almond extract, and salt.
  3. Divide the oatmeal into 4 servings. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of dried cherries and 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds. Serve warm. (To reheat steel cut oats, add 1 tablespoon of water or milk per serving, and microwave on high for 60 to 90 seconds.)

4 Things to Know About Exercise and Bone Density4 Things to Know About Exercise and Bone Density


Exercise and Bone Density

Bone loss puts you at risk for osteoporosis.

Bone mass peaks in your 20s, and you begin to lose about 0.5 percent per year after the age of 40. If steps are not taken to combat this loss, decreased bone mineral density (osteopenia) can result. When osteopenia is extreme, it becomes osteoporosis, a disease that puts you at high risk for bone fracture and physical disability.

Exercise can reduce bone loss.

Osteoblasts build bone and improve bone density, while osteoclasts break down bone and decrease bone density. During midlife, osteoblast activity is in balance with osteoclast activity. After a woman reaches menopause, osteoclast activity increases causing a loss in bone mineral density. Research shows that exercise stimulates the activity of osteoblasts (build up) while it also appears to suppress osteoclast (break down) activity helping you to maintain bone density and decrease age-related bone loss.

The influence of exercise on bone mineral density is dependent on many factors including age, hormone status, nutritional status, and the type of exercise. The benefit of exercise also goes away once regular activity stops. Making physical activity a long-term, regular part of your lifestyle is essential for improving bone health.

Choose weight-bearing exercises.

Bones must be overloaded to stimulate new growth. This occurs during higher impact, weight-bearing exercises that involve pounding or quick movement such as running, moderate intensity weight training, jump training, stair climbing, gymnastics, tennis, and soccer. Activities such as cycling and swimming are beneficial to heart health, but are not weight-bearing and do little to improve bone density.

Research shows that walking may not provide enough impact to preserve bone mineral density. However, it’s possible that a long-term walking program (more than 1 year) may provide some benefit. But if you rely on walking for your weight-bearing exercise, consider adding stair climbing or short jogging intervals to your regular walks.

It’s not too late to protect your bones.

Building a strong bone foundation in the teens and 20s is important, but it’s not too late if you have passed that stage of your life. The goal in midlife is to maintain the bone mass you have built in earlier years.

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