Cedars-Sinai Blog

Brain Food: Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Pepper

Filled with quinoa and avocado, this stuffed bell pepper recipe is full of nutrients shown to improve brain health.

You've probably heard that avocados are full of "good fats." One of those types of good fats is monounsaturated fats, which are important for maintaining brain cell structure and function.

Monounsaturated fats are an important feature of the Mediterranean diet, which has been found to improve brain health. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect the blood vessels in the brain from developing plaques, and therefore, improve blood flow to the sensitive areas of the brain that are responsible for memory formation, focus, and attention.


Peppers and filling

4 medium green bell peppers, cored and seeded, with the top stem removed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup dry white quinoa, rinsed and drained

1¼ cups water

¼ teaspoon sea salt, add more to taste

¼ teaspoon cumin, add more to taste

½ lime, juiced

¼ cup sliced red onion

¼ cup salsa of choice

Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Chopped cilantro

Avocado sauce

2 small ripe avocados

2 cups cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 small garlic clove

5 small limes, juiced

½ teaspoon sea salt, cumin optional

¼ cup water, to thin


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Drizzle the bell peppers with olive oil and place on a baking sheet on the top rack. Bake for 20 minutes, making sure they don't get browned.

In the meantime, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add rinsed quinoa and toast for 3-5 minutes, or until all water is evaporated. This makes the quinoa slightly toasted. Add water, a pinch of sea salt, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy.

Remove quinoa from heat and season with another healthy pinch of sea salt and ¼ teaspoon ground cumin. Stir, adjust seasonings as desired, and set aside covered.

Sauce: to prepare sauce, add all ingredients except water to a blender or food processor and blend. Add only enough water to encourage blending. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lime, salt, and/or cumin.

Toppings: prepare any remaining toppings, such as chopped onion, cilantro.

To serve, fill each bell pepper with one tablespoon of salsa, then ¼ cup of quinoa. Drizzle generously with the avocado sauce and sprinkle with other toppings. Serve.

It's not one food or nutrient that keeps your brain healthy. It's the combination of many good foods that works. This is one of a series of simple and delicious brain food recipes designed to feed your head with brain-building nutrients.