Its summer and that means ‘crunch’ time as in eating more peppers.  One of the most eye-catching foods in the produce section of grocery stores is peppers. From yellow, red, green and even purple, peppers come in an array of colors and offer impressive nutrition with every bite. In a season when vine-ripened tomatoes get all the glory, bright bell peppers deserve a moment to shine.

Besides their striking colors, what I especially like about peppers is their nutritional one-two punch. For example, red bell peppers, like all peppers, are loaded with beneficial plant pigments and other nutrients. Just one cup of chopped red bell peppers provides 317% of an adult’s daily value of vitamin C and 93% of vitamin A. These two nutrients play a role in healthy skin and in boosting your immune system.  This same cupful also provides 12% vitamin E, a potential cell protector.

And surprise, surprise – bell peppers are actually fruits!  The bell pepper, also known as ‘sweet peppers,’ is the only member of the Capsicum family that doesn’t produce capsaicin.  Capsaicin is the chemical in peppers that causes the spiciness.  Consequently, this is why bell peppers are referred to as sweet peppers, because they are sweet and not spicy.

If you have hesitated eating bell peppers being unsure of their taste, here’s a quick run-through of what to expect depending on their color:

  • Green peppers – This pepper is an immature version of red, orange, or yellow peppers. Since they are less ripe, they have a slightly bitter flavor and can sometimes cause digestive issues. But they are perfect for flavoring hot dishes such as stews, casseroles and pasta sauces.
  • Red peppers – This pepper combines the sweetness of yellow and orange peppers with the spiciness of green peppers. They are suitable for all dishes; raw and sliced into strips or in a salad or sandwich, but also for hot dishes such as sauces, soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and stews.
  • Yellow peppers – Often used in salads and crudités but also very tasty in hot dishes. It has a soft, sweet yet refreshing taste.
  • Orange peppers – This pepper is the sweetest of all making them particularly suitable for eating raw. The sweet taste goes great with hot dishes and is very suitable for grilling or stir-frying.

While peppers are available year-round, summertime is their peak season.  From farmer’s markets to backyard gardens, enjoy peppers while in their prime. Here are other ways to put peppers on your dinner plate:

  • Chop them up to add to summer salads
  • Add to scrambled eggs or tuck into an omelet
  • Add to sandwiches as an extra veggie
  • Cut up into strips for dipping into hummus
  • Serve them as part of a grilled vegetable platter. Peppers are an excellent match with eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes.
  • Sauté them into fries or roast on the grill until extra sweet and slightly blistered

To help get you started on adding in more peppers into your meals, here’s a recipe for oven roasted peppers.  In this super easy recipe, I used mini peppers but bell red peppers, green, yellow, orange and purple peppers can be substituted.  If you’ve never had roasted peppers, you’re in for a treat.  Let’s just say not much beats the flavor of fresh peppers that have been charred and blackened in the oven or on a grill.  The high heat of roasting causes the natural sugars in peppers to caramelize resulting in a sweet flavor. Besides, roasting peppers is the perfect way to put a bumper crop of peppers to use or to take advantage of grocery store sales

So, let’s get started!

Photo taken by Cheryl Mussatto

OVEN ROASTED PEPPERS – 4 servings (serving size – 1 cup)

Nutrition per serving:  Calories – 90; Total Fat – 7 grams; Protein – 1 gram; Carbohydrates – 7 grams; Fiber – 2 grams; Sodium – 142 milligrams

Ingredients:

4 medium bell peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut peppers into quarters, then seed and trim.
  3. Place peppers on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle peppers with salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic.
  6. Roast until flesh is tender and skin is charred in spots, about 25 – 30 minutes.
  7. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Categories: Recipes

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Cheryl Mussatto

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.

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