Sweet peppers and my sweetie

When I first married George, I had no idea that it was a love-me-love-my-peppers sort of proposition.

It wasn’t a deal-breaker, you understand. I didn’t MIND peppers. I had just never embraced them with George’s enthusiasm. I’d dutifully add them to recipes when called for, but seldom introduced them on my own.

For George, though, sweet peppers are one of the main food groups. Whenever we discussed recipes, peppers found their way into the list of suggested ingredients. Whether it was pizza, stir-fry, vegetable soup, stew or even just a salad, I knew George would end the list with “…and peppers.”

He began to win me over, though, when he started choosing the red and yellow peppers. Oh my, sweet as can be

Via Bing Images

and much preferable to those–to me–slightly bitter green peppers, which was what I had eaten mostly.

“I could eat this like an apple,” I told George one day, as I hauled a beautiful yellow pepper out of the bag. That was quite a capitulation.

The problem, of course, is that the red, yellow and orange peppers tend to be so much more expensive. Here in Door County, we’ve seen them priced as high as $4 a pound. However, when George’s music gigs take him to Chicago, he can pick them up at some of his favorite produce stores for much better prices. This past summer, he found some beautiful specimens for 98 cents a pound.

Needless to say, he came home with two huge bags of them.

“We’re going to turn into peppers,” I said, only half joking. George suggested we try freezing them–and to our delight, they freeze beautifully. The best part is that George, who has often told me he likes chopping veggies, volunteered to chop all of these and bag them for the freezer.

“You’re on!” I told him.

Now, when I’m cooking something, I just grab a bag from the freezer, break off as many as I need, thaw them in a strainer under running water, and in minutes they’re ready to use.

Just recently, I decided to find out if these peppers are good for anything besides flavoring my foods. I’m watching cholesterol these days, and have learned the value of not just eliminating bad foods, but also adding good ones. To my surprise, I discovered that I hit the jackpot with bell peppers.

My research says they are packed with several nutrients.  They are a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and folic acid.  They also contain a large amount of phytochemicals that have exceptional antioxidant activity, including chlorogenic acid, zeaxanthin, and coumeric acid.

There’s more. Bell peppers have been shown to protect against cataracts and to prevent blood clot formation and to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.  Best of all, they’re promoted for people with elevated cholesterol levels.

When comparing the nutrient values of the different bell peppers, studies have shown that red bell peppers have significantly higher levels of nutrients than green.  I now feel justified in liking the green ones least. Red bell peppers also contain lycopene, which is a carotene that helps to protect against cancer and heart disease.

One thing I took note of, however, is that peppers retain their nutrients better when cooked over low heat for very short periods of time. Raw is probably best of all, so now I don’t feel so bad about wanting to eat them like apples.

Photo by Andrew Scrivani for the New York Times

First I learned to like them, and now I really appreciate them. Now, I’ll be looking for ways to include sweet peppers in my meals. Today, I found a recipe in the New York Times for a cabbage, onion and sweet pepper tart that made my stomach growl just reading the directions. I’m going to try it as soon as possible. Click for the recipe.

Just look what George started. I wonder if he should get a finder’s fee.

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog. I actually have two blogs here: one about ordinary things at monicaspen.wordpress.com; and one about Catholic and Benedictine things at heartsponderings.wordpress.com.
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12 Responses to Sweet peppers and my sweetie

  1. gtrgeorge51 says:

    I don’t think I’m quite as nuts about bell peppers as all that… or am I?

    GREAT article!

  2. Denise Doyle says:

    That recipe looks really good…I think I’ll try it! I don’t care for green peppers at all, but I do love the red, yellow and orange peppers.

  3. monica says:

    sauteed Sliced onions, sliced peppers then add eggs and mix them around and you got Spanish style omelette… also look for stuff pepper recipes….
    One of my favorite is to sliced onions, peppers mushrooms, make a bed on a pan to cook salmon… also add some honey to it…. just delicious and the salmon steams with flavor instead of dry out…..
    I like peppers …..

    and yeah! great article…..

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      I’ve stuffed peppers in the past, but always the green ones. Never thought to try another color. The salmon suggestion sounds wonderful. Is it done in the oven, or on the stove top?

  4. monica says:

    Stove top. It has been my favorite meal while I am on the road, and I only had available a stove top to cook. I also add some white wine to cook and give some moisture.

  5. monica says:

    … I also like how peppers make a great picture/painting subject…. after reading your article… I remember that I have a painting in my kitchen that I did long time ago of three peppers. Yellow red and green, then I kept them (full sized) in the freezer for too long and they became sad and smoochy until I had to throw them away…. 🙂 They also make a great subject in the grocery store when they spray water on top… oh have I photographed them… 🙂

  6. monica says:

    When I am home, I had cooked the salmon on the veggie bed. it is delicious just avoid the mushrooms, they don’t bake well… so I would avoid them in the oven.

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