Green, red, purple, orange, yellow, brown, and black! Who knew there were so many different colors of the wonderful sweet bell pepper?
I’ve seen bell peppers at our local farmers’ market and we recently began harvesting our own crop of bell peppers at the garden where Food $ense has been working this summer. For some reason, I just love watching peppers grow. I find them so funky looking and am drawn to all of the bright colors. After reading about the wealth of health benefits that bell peppers offer, I am definitely going to be increasing my weekly intake!
Bell peppers are brightly colored, crunchy vegetables, and although they are related to peppers like the jalepeno, bell peppers are not actually spicy. They are actually very sweet and mild in flavor. Green bell peppers are the most commonly eaten and least expensive color of bell pepper. I always thought that bell peppers started out green and then ripened into the different colors. That is not completely true. Not all bell peppers start off green and not all green peppers ripen into other colors. They are all delicious and great for your health, so try including a variety of different colored bell peppers into your diet!
Let’s start by talking about my favorite part: nutrition of the pepper. Bell peppers are powerhouses in the nutrition department. They are known for containing an amazing amount of antioxidants and are especially high in two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect our eyes from age-related damage. Bell peppers are also a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Select and Store:
When choosing your bell pepper, look for deep and vivid colors. This will help you choose the ripest peppers. Look for peppers with tight, wrinkle-free skin and be sure to choose ones that are free of blemishes and dark spots.
Store unwashed bell peppers in the fridge for 7-10 days. They still need moisture, so try setting them on a damp paper towel in the crisper drawer. I love having my veggies already washed and chopped so that I can just grab them and go. At the beginning of the week, I wash and chop a few bell peppers. I keep some in a large tupperware with other veggies to add to salads and keep another tupperware with bell pepper strips for easy snacking.
Prepare and Enjoy:
Be sure to start by giving your bell peppers a good wash in cold water. This will remove dirt and bacteria.
Cutting bell peppers can be really simple if you use a few key tricks. This video will teach you what you need to know:
You are now ready to start eating and enjoying your peppers. Here are some of my favorite ways of adding these little gems into my day
– Add diced bell peppers to scrambled eggs or omelets
– Top salads with a mix of different colored bell peppers
– Use thinly sliced bell peppers as a pizza topping
– Stir fry bell peppers with a mix of chicken and veggies. Serve over a bed of brown rice
– Pack snack bags with bell pepper strips, carrots, and baby tomatoes. Serve with hummus or cottage cheese
– Add diced bell peppers to quesadillas or enchiladas
– Slow cooked chicken or flank steak with peppers and onions
– Stuff bell peppers with rice, tomatoes, and lean ground turkey
Slow Cooker Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/slow-cooker-cuban-braised-beef-and-peppers-recipe-00000000025237/
Bell Pepper Egg in a Hole: http://natashaskitchen.com/2012/06/11/bell-pepper-egginahole/
Mini Pepper Chicken Nachos (You can also quarter a large bell pepper to use): http://www.heatovento350.com/2013/03/mini-pepper-chicken-nachos.html
One Pan Skillet Stuffed Bell Pepper: http://www.number-2-pencil.com/2013/07/24/one-pan-skillet-stuffed-bell-peppers/
Brown Rice Salad with Olives, Bell Peppers, Peas, and Basil Vinaigrette: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2013/07/brown-rice-salad-with-olives-peppers-peas.html
Click on the pictures below for a printable version
Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite way to enjoy bell peppers?