Air Fryer Stuffed Bell Peppers with Blueberries and Red Rice

Ingredients for air fryer stuffed bell peppers with blueberries on marble counter

These air fryer stuffed bell peppers with blueberries are an easy weeknight dinner option with the bonus of brain health benefits!

As a Blue Crew ambassador, I have partnered with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to share with you my latest recipe.

A growing body of scientific evidence is examining how blueberries can be part of eating patterns to support brain health, in addition to being a part of an overall healthy lifestyle. 

Brain health is something to consider at all ages because a happy brain can mean better performance at work, during exercise, and for storing memories of special times with friends and family. 

June is Brain Health Month, so let’s take a closer look at how blueberries can give your brain a boost, and how they’re used in these delicious air fryer stuffed bell peppers!

Importance of Brain Health as You Age

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are most common in adults 65 and older, and this risk increases with age. However, this doesn’t mean that brain health should only be a focus for people in that age category! Eating foods to support brain health from a young age can also provide additional health benefits.

In fact, one new research study published in April in Nutrients found that blueberries have cognitive benefits, starting in mid-life. The researchers found that the equivalent of a half cup of fresh blueberries per day, consumed as freeze-dried blueberry powder, may contribute to protection against cognitive decline when implemented early in at-risk individuals (overweight men and women, aged 50 to 65 years).

Food Choices for Brain Health

Research has suggested that food patterns including a mixture of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seafood with lower sodium intake can benefit brain health.

This air fryer stuffed bell pepper recipe with blueberries includes nearly all of these categories:

  • Fruit: blueberries
  • Vegetables: onion, garlic, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers
  • Nuts: walnuts

It also contains herbs and spices and whole-grain red rice for additional phytonutrient power.

Anthocyanin Benefits for Brain Health

One of the powerful nutrients that provide these brain benefits are called anthocyanins, plant compounds that give blueberries their beautiful blue color.  In fact, research shows that the anthocyanins present in blueberries (163.3 mg/100g) may help to improve mild cognitive performance in older adults. The red rice in this recipe also contains anthocyanins.

For more information on how blueberries can help to support brain health, be sure to check out this comprehensive Brain Health Month toolkit, courtesy of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Within the toolkit you’ll find ready-made social media content and digital ads, tip sheets, a research deep-dive, mouthwatering recipes, eye-popping blueberry images and more. 

Anthocyanin Color

Want an easy way to search for anthocyanin-abundant foods? Anthocyanins are typically a blue, purple, or red color. If a plant-based food is one of these colors, it likely contains anthocyanins.

And did you know that blueberries have one of the highest anthocyanin contents out of all common foods (163. mg/100 g)? No wonder they’re so blue!

Highlighted Nutrition of Blueberries

One cup of blueberries provides:

  • 80 calories with only naturally occurring sugars. Remember, your brain needs energy, primarily from carbohydrates to function!
  • Essential nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and phytonutrients called polyphenols
  • 163.3 mg/100g of anthocyanins 

Using Blueberries in Air Fryer Stuffed Bell Peppers

This recipe uses fresh blueberries as a key ingredient for the stuffed bell peppers. While the recipe calls for an air fryer, I’ve included instructions to make them in an oven as well! 

The blueberries bring a pop of color in addition to some natural sweetness to make these stuffed bell peppers a sure hit with anyone you share them with! So go ahead, grab a boost of blue and let’s get cooking!

up close Air fryer stuffed bell peppers
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Servings6
CourseMain Course
CuisineAmerican
DietGluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Equipment

  • Electric pressure cooker
  • 9×13” baking dish (for oven)
  • Oven or air fryer

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry red rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 14.5 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 12-inch celery sliced
  • teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped basil
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 large colorful bell peppers tops cut off and seeded

Instructions

Instructions for the Air Fryer

  • Cook the rice according to the package or if using an electric pressure cooker turn on “Manual” high pressure for 24 minutes. When done, turn the pressure valve to release the pressure and open the lid. Set the rice aside to cool down.
  • In the meantime, on a large skillet heat up the oil and add the onions and garlic and sauté on medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, celery, salt and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes
  • Add the cooked rice to the skillet and mix well
  • Add the walnuts, basil and blueberries and gently mix all the ingredients well.
  • Add the cooked rice and mix all the ingredients well
  • Preheat the Air Fryer to 370°F.
  • Evenly divide the mixture among the bell peppers. Arrange the bell peppers in the Air Fryer basket and cook for 12 minutes or until tender.
  • Remove the basket from the air fryer and serve warm.

Instructions for the Oven

  • Cook the rice according to the package or if using an electric pressure cooker turn on “Manual” high pressure for 24 minutes. When done, turn the pressure valve to release the pressure and open the lid. Set the rice aside to cool down.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with foil and set aside.
  • In the meantime, on a large skillet heat up the oil and add the onions and garlic and sauté on medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, celery, salt and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes
  • Add the cooked rice to the skillet and mix well
  • Add the walnuts, basil and blueberries and gently mix all the ingredients well
  • Add the cooked rice and mix all the ingredients well
  • Evenly divide the mixture among the bell peppers. Arrange the bell peppers in the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and carefully remove aluminum foil. Place back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes or until peppers are tender. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Blueberry Walnut & Red Rice Air Fryer Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serving Size
 
1 bell pepper
Amount per Serving
Calories
345
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
17
g
26
%
Sodium
 
467
mg
20
%
Carbohydrates
 
48
g
16
%
Fiber
 
9
g
38
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried and enjoyed this recipe?Mention @manuel.villacorta in your post or story!

For more inspiration and recipes featuring blueberries, visit U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

Explore My Other Recipes with Blueberries

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