Sweet peppers exude health & wellness, as their colors of red, green, yellow and orange look so vibrant that you just almost feel healthier just by looking at them. Did you know that all peppers actually start out green and they change colors when they are fully mature? Red peppers are the sweetest of all of the sweet peppers and they are actually just a green pepper, fully ripened (must be why they are my favorite.)
If you smoke, definitely consider adding red bell peppers to your diet.
A 1-cup serving of red bell peppers provides over 100% of your DV of vitamin A. This is great for smokers because Vitamin A has been shown to promote lung health. Red peppers also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a cartenoid that has also been shown to lower the risk of developing lung cancer. A study in the Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention found that those eating the most beta-cryptoxanthin foods had a 27% lower risk for lung cancer. Not only that, but some studies show that exposure to the carcinogens in cigarettes results in a vitamin A deficiency, so foods rich in vitamin A help counter that and offer protection. Vitamin A is also great for the immune system.
Red Bell Peppers Are Great for Fitness
Sweet peppers are also high in vitamin C (1 cup provides nearly 300% of your daily value!), so you have two very powerful antioxidants that work synergistically to neutralize free radicals. This helps prevent cancer and build up of cholesterol in the arteries. Vitamin C has also been shown to boost the brain chemical norepinephrine, a key fat-burning hormone that can elevate your mood. If that wasn’t enough, vitamin C helps dilate blood vessels, resulting in improved fitness performance and nutrient delivery. Peppers also contain lycopene (also in tomatoes), which is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and boosts muscle growth.
All of these health benefits for low calories, great flavor and compatibility with a great number of dishes or as a snack food eaten alone.
My son claims he doesn’t like sweet peppers, but I tell him that a sweet red pepper is similar in taste and texture to an apple. My daughter, on the other hand, loves peppers both raw and cooked. I love to put a variety of colorful sweet peppers on my salad, which my favorite restaurant, Jason Deli, has on the salad bar. I love green peppers on my sandwiches, which I actually got yesterday at Subway. Again, I have to tout my love for Trader Joes, because they have the BEST sweet pepper variety with their Melange a Trois, which is a frozen bag of red, yellow and green pepper strips. I love it because the peppers are already cut up and you get a good variety of three sweet peppers. I also love it because it is only $1.69 for the entire bag! I’ve been known to pay $3.00 just for one red pepper, so this is a steal!
My favorite recipe using sweet peppers is my healthy chicken enchiladas. I’m sharing my secret recipe with you guys, so please try it out and let me know what you think!
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 can diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 cup Trader Joe’s Melange a Trois
- 1 can black beans
- 6 whole wheat medium-sized tortillas (my fav is Mission Whole Wheat Tortilla or Life Balance)
- Spices (salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder)
- 1 can enchilada sauce
- 2% cheddar or mexican cheese (I like Kraft)
- 0% Fage Greek Yogurt
- Defrost the chicken breasts and then rub with spices
- Place tomato sauce, black beans, sweet peppers and chicken breasts into a slow cooker and place on low for 6-8 hours
- At the end of 8 hours preheat the oven to 375
- Take the chicken out of the slow cooker and place into a big bowl. Shred the chicken with two forks.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients in the slow cooker in the bowl (use judgement on how much of the tomatoes or “juice” to include. I usually leave some behind so my enchiladas are not watery.)
- Add 1/4 of the can of enchilada sauce and 1/4 cup of cheese to the mixture
- Warm the tortillas in the microwave on high for 30 seconds
- Place heaping scoop of filling into the tortilla and wrap up and place in a glass baking dish (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray)
- Top enchilada’s with remaining enchilada sacue and 1/4 cup of cheese
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes
- Serve with non-fat Fage greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream
These require a little bit of work, but are so worth it! Please share your sweet pepper recipes here!