Red Pepper Power

ripe red peppers

Summer is red pepper time!  Deliciously sweet and bold, red peppers liven up summertime fare.  And as a bonus–they’re packed with healthy stuff, too!

As a child, one of my favorite summer treats was to walk out to my Paw’s garden and pick a red pepper right off the stalk and eat it — just as you would an apple.  I admit I did this with green and yellow peppers, too, as well as the occasional hot banana pepper and tomatoes.  But red peppers hold a special place in my heart and on my taste buds.

It’s the rarest of produce that can stand up on it’s own like a red pepper.  Where other veggies like eggplant or zucchini might pick up flavors from other ingredients in a dish, red peppers are assertive, and can hold their own and add bright and interesting flavor in the face of garlic, onions–even cheese.

Served raw, red peppers are crunchy, sweet and refreshing.  Cooked, they become mellow and smooth, adding subtle sweetness and beautiful color to any dish.

But red pepper power goes beyond deliciousness. Red peppers are packed with healthy antioxidants like vitamins C and A.  Red peppers have a big dose of B6 and magnesium, which can help with night vision and relieve anxiety.  Red peppers have the highest concentration of lycopene of any vegetable.  Research has suggested that lycopene is important in preventing many types of cancer.

And, recent studies show that red peppers can increase your metabolic rate, so you might just burn more calories if you eat red peppers.  Sweet red peppers don’t contain capsaicin like hot peppers, so they won’t make you sweat– but they will cause a mild thermogenic response that can increase your metabolism without increasing your heart rate.

So, here’s to red pepper power and all the wonderful ways to enjoy it this summer.  Viva la red pepper!

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