Our farmers market is a great place to shop and an even better indicator of what produce is in season. Soon, we’ll begin to see a wider variety of fruits & vegetables available for purchase and even better: consumption! While peppers are an item found in grocery stores year round thanks to the magic of greenhouses, there’s something appealing about produce grown in our own backyards.
This prominent member of the nightshade family, grows through most of the rainbow: red through green & even purple! Other nightshades include potatoes, tomatoes & eggplant and can cause inflammation in the body. Nutrient dense, high in fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins as well as a variety of other nutrients. This is a crop that is heavily sprayed with pesticides, and thus choosing organic is smart! Did you know: Red, orange & yellow peppers are simply green peppers in varying stages of ripeness.
The compound in these peppers that make them hot is called capsaicin: the more capsaicin, the hotter the pepper. These can be used as a medicine for asthma, fevers, sore throat, respiratory tract infections and more. In contrast to the nightshade bell peppers, cayenne peppers can actually aid inflammatory diseases such as arthritis (there are capsaicin creams, gels & capsules out there if you’re looking for the benefits without the burn in your mouth!). There are many benefits to including cayenne in your cooking ranging from preventing stomach ulcers & reducing indigestion to reducing cholesterol & increasing metabolism. Did you know: Cayenne peppers are technically berries!
This ‘pepper’ too is a berry rather than a vegetable! In ancient Greece, peppercorns were used as currency, though today it accounts for 25% of the world’s spice production. Pepper increases the absorption of selenium, B vitamins & beta carotene as well as stimulating taste buds in a way that increases stomach acid, thus improving digestion. Maybe this is why it is one of the two most common seasonings in North America. Did you know: Pepper is best added to food near the end of cooking it as the flavor will be lost with too much heat.
I love adding red bell pepper to everything from tacos to lasagna, and I love hummus with roasted red peppers, but this recipe is intriguing! Traditionally hummus is made from chickpeas, but there are alternatives for those looking to avoid legumes. Try out this great summer dip featuring red bell peppers from Carla:
- 1⁄2 cup sesame seeds, ground into a powder
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups seeded and diced red bell pepper
- 1⁄3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
- 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
In a food processor, process the sesame seeds, garlic, and salt into small pieces.
Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Makes 2 cups. Will keep for 2 days in the fridge.