Ah, wonderful summertime! It’s hot and humid here in Indiana right now, and the vegetables are flourishing. I’m growing tomatoes, herbs and peppers in my garden, but the squirrels have gotten most of the tomatoes. They don’t like the peppers though so I have a bunch of them. I’m growing jalapeños (medium spice), purple bell (mild spice), and poblano peppers (a little less than medium spice) this year. I’ve been putting them in everything, and I thought this would be the perfect time to let you know how healthy peppers are, and to give you some ideas about how to use them.
All peppers are a wonderful source of vitamins A, C, and K, though red peppers are the best source for them. Vitamins A and C are antioxidants that help prevent cancer, cell damage, diseases related to aging, they help support immune function and reduce inflammation. Vitamin K helps protect cells from oxidative damage, promotes proper blood clotting and strengthens bones.
Red peppers contain high amounts of lycopene which helps prevent prostate, cervical, bladder, and pancreatic cancer, and beta-cryptoxanthin which helps prevent lung cancer that’s related to smoking or second hand smoke.
My new favorite thing is jalapeños and other hot peppers. Hot peppers contain capsaicin which is found mostly in the membranes and seeds, and has been found to decrease blood cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce the risk of stomach ulcers, and boost immunity.
Another awesome thing about peppers is that they’re high in fiber and low in calories- about 12 calories per 1/2 cup. This is great because you can eat many of them to fill you up, and get those vitamins in, and it won’t derail your healthy eating plan. Both hot and sweet peppers also contain substances that help increase the body’s heat production and oxygen consumption for about TWENTY MINUTES AFTER YOU EAT. This means that our bodies are continuing to burn calories, which promotes weight loss. That’s super duper, my friends!
Now that we’ve discussed how healthy peppers are, I’d like to give you some ideas of how to prepare them.
If you read my previous post, “Peter Piper…”, you saw that I’m really into pickling vegetables because of how healthy they are for us, and because they are so darn tasty and easy to make. That’s my favorite use for peppers, and you can put pickled peppers on hamburgers and hot dogs, on top of salads, and in soups and stews. They are versatile and delicious.
My second favorite use for peppers is to make salsa with them. I shared my salsa recipe in my previous blog post, “Corn, Tomatoes, and Canteloupe- Oh My”, and you should read that one because I think it’s a tasty recipe, and the writing’s not too bad either. 🙂
Peppers are also terrific chopped up and added into soups, stews, chili and they really add flavor to scrambled eggs. I’ve been chopping them up, sautéing them for a few minutes, and then scrambling them with eggs and ham- just so super delicious! If you add some black beans, shredded cheese and tortillas you’ve got a wonderful breakfast.
You can control the level of spice in your peppers too. If you or your family members don’t like a lot of spice, you can remove the white membranes and seeds inside the peppers and even a spicy pepper becomes mild. Just make sure you wear gloves when you do this or the juices get under your nails and will continue to burn and sting for hours after you’re finished, even if you’ve washed your hands multiple times. Even a spicy-ish jalapeño tastes fruity after the membranes and seeds have been removed. They have a very delicious flavor that I’m into right now.
Of course for salsas, I chop jalapeños whole with seeds and membranes because salsa needs a bit of spice to give it a kick. If you really like spice use a habanero or ghost pepper but I’m not into that much spice, myself.
So that’s what I’m into right now, and what the bounty of my garden is giving me. Be creative with peppers and let me know if you have some good ideas of how to cook with them. Peppers are full of vitamins and antioxidants, as well as being low in calories, and high in fiber. They help you continue to burn calories twenty minutes after they are eaten and they’ve just plain ole’ delicious. So eat some peppers today because they’ll help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!