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Spice Up Your Summer!

June 18, 2013

Hot or not, spicy or sweet, red or green … peppers are always at the top of my list for summer fare. Not only do they add great colors and texture to omelets, salsas and stir-fries, peppers carry many great attributes.

All peppers belong to the Capsicum family of foods. They differ in colors, shapes and sizes and of course level of hotness. The spice factor ranges anywhere from non- existent to extremely spicy and can be measured by the Scoville Scale. To determine a Scoville rating, the pepper’s capsaicin oil is added to larger amounts of sugar water until the heat can’t be detected. For example, a habanero pepper may have a Scoville rating of 200,000 indicating that the capsaicin needs to be diluted over 200,000 times before the heat is undetectable. Since the results rely on human perception, the new standard method for measuring hotness is high-performance liquid chromatography.

Whether you like them a little hot or a lot, peppers are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Although all peppers share similar nutritional characteristics, the pepper’s color contributes to its unique phytonutrient makeup.

Always fill and color your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables (including peppers)! This will help to ensure your body is receiving many different types of phytonutrients and their health benefits! But no matter how you decide to eat them – grilled, stuffed, raw, or sautéed – enjoy the bountiful flavors and colors of all peppers!

Recipe

Grilled Stuff Jalapeños

Ingredients

    • 4 ounces of reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese softened
    • ½ cup reduced-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon chili powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon paprika
    • 10 jalapeño peppers

Directions
Cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each pepper, leaving the stem intact. Remove membranes and seeds. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, mix and fill each pepper with a tablespoon of the mixture.

Place peppers in a disposable foil pan. Grill, covered on indirect medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Serve warm.

Meredith Mensinger
Corporate Dietitian
Redner’s Warehouse Markets

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