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Bell peppers: Bursting with color, flavor and vitamin C

Photo by McKenna Ingerson

Bell peppers are crunchy and refreshing and are the perfect addition to a number of summer dishes. 

They are neither hot nor spicy. The primary substance that controls “hotness” in peppers is called capsaicin, and it’s found in very small amounts in bell peppers — unlike their spicy cousin, the jalapeño pepper. Though bell peppers are available year-round, thanks to imports from countries such as Mexico and Holland, they are at their best during the peak growing season, from July to November.

Choosing a great bell pepper is simple. First off, you want to make sure the pepper is vivid in color, has a shiny exterior and has no obvious abrasions. Then to make sure it’s juicy and ripe, pick up the pepper and make sure it feels heavy for its size and slightly firm. Bell peppers taste best and have the most nutritional value in the first three days after you buy them.

My favorite bell pepper is the red pepper. When sliced raw, 1  cup of red peppers gives 157 percent of your recommended daily nutritional intake of vitamin C, according to www.WebMD.com. 

Raw bell peppers are a perfect summer snack because they’re so cool and crisp, but they are also excellent stuffed and baked, stewed, sautéed, grilled, roasted, stir-fried and as a garnish. 

My favorite use for bell peppers is in a chicken taco. They are light and healthy but also bursting with color and flavor.

 

Chicken taco recipe 

Adapted from
www.Allrecipes.com

One red bell pepper, one green bell pepper, one yellow bell pepper, one jalapeño pepper, one yellow onion, two large plum tomatoes, salt, pepper, hot sauce, one (8-ounce) package of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts and 12 large romaine lettuce leaves

For extra flavor, you can add 3 tablespoons of taco seasoning to the chicken before cooking it. I like to grill the chicken but you can also cook it up in a skillet at medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. 

A great way to cook chicken breasts and almost any kind of meat is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees; heat up a skillet until it’s red hot; put the meat in the skillet and brown it on each side (about 4 minutes) then put the skillet in the oven for another five minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Meanwhile, chop all the peppers, the onion and the tomatoes into small pieces, and add salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste.

Once the chicken is cooked, cut it in to bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and fill them with the pepper mix, the cheese and the chicken. For extra flavor, you can squeeze on some fresh lime juice or add some chopped cilantro.