Peppers by Virginia Davis

Poet William Cowper once said, “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” Whenever I think of the “spice of life” in terms of food, bell peppers immediately come to mind. Bell peppers are some of the most nutrient-packed vegetables available.

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They come in an assortment of colors and have serious immune boosting powers. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the longer the bell pepper stays on the plant, the more it will change color and therefore, produce more vitamin C. In fact, the versatile red bell pepper has almost as much vitamin C as its citrus fruit colleague, the orange. These colorful and flavorful vegetables also contain a significant amount of vitamin A. So bell peppers not only fight off seasonal allergies and illnesses, they also prevent vision deterioration. Bell peppers are available from the middle of June through the end of August. Bell peppers come in a variety of flavors. Depending on the color, they can fluctuate between smoky and spicy to subtle and sweet. Green bell peppers are most well-known for their foundation in Hispanic cuisine-I’m sure you are hearing the sizzling sound of fajitas in the background right now. But here in the South, we have decided to make them shine in our own ways. Their strong flavor fits so well into our gumbos and grits and gives the “spice of life” to an otherwise bland dish.

My personal favorite, red bell peppers, are less fiery than their green counterpart. They can be added to just about any dish and provide a smoky, sweet flavor. If ever I’m at a loss of what to cook for dinner, I’ll usually grab a red bell pepper and all the fresh veggies I have in the refrigerator, adding olive oil, seasonings, and some diced chicken or beef  sirloin to make a quick, nutritious stir-fry.

I’ve included one of my favorite recipes. It is not only tasty, but also packed with protein and slim on calories. These stuffed bell peppers are a great healthy alternative to the traditional recipe. Instead of rice, I use plain quinoa to give some extra protein and fiber. In addition to the stuffed bell peppers, I’ve included a delicious peach salsa recipe. Luckily, peaches are in season the same time as peppers, so this recipe is perfect for a trip to the farmer’s market. Bell peppers are a wonderful way to get a lot of nutritional benefits and zest in your diet, so get creative and soak up the spice of life!

 


Turkey-stuffed Bell Peppers (6 servings)

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Ingredients

1 pound 93 percent lean ground turkey

1 garlic, minced

¼ cup onion, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh

cilantro or parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large sweet red bell peppers, washed

1 cup fat free chicken broth

¼ cup tomato sauce

1½ cups cooked brown rice or plain quinoa

Olive oil spray

6 tablespoons of part skim shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray olive oil spray in a medium nonstick skillet and heat on a medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and cilantro and sauté about 2 minutes, add ground turkey, salt, garlic powder, cumin and cook meat for 4 to 5 minutes until meat is completely cooked through. Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Combine cooked rice and meat together. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Spoon 2/3 cup meat mixture into each pepper half and place in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top each with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan. Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and serve immediately.

Adapted from http://www.skinnytaste.com/turkey-stuffed-peppers-45-pts


Tasha's Peach Salsa (6-8 servings)

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Ingredients

1 pound of Roma tomatoes

2 jalapeños

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

1 red onion

1½ pounds of peaches (*may use mangoes as a substitute)

½ bunch of cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

1½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Put all ingredients into a food processor and chop away!