Bell peppers are powerhouse fruits. These seeded gems are dubbed “bell” for good reason, closely resembling the kind that chimes. This variety of pepper is a proud member of the nightshade family and is close cousins with chilis and tomatoes. Not only are they versatile and full of flavor, but they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals. While it’s difficult to decide on our fave fruit here at Freshly, we think this show-stopping ingredient definitely deserves a spotlight.
The History of the Bell Pepper
Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing bell peppers from Central and Southern America back to Europe and was the person to give them their first official name, “pimiento.” This was a bit confusing to European folks back then, as they associated that word with the prized condiment, peppercorn. But the name stuck as centuries passed, along with another alias, capsicum. Around the same time of the pepper’s climb to popularity, paprika hit the food scene. This smoky spice derives from dried and ground red pepper pods and is often used to add a pop of color and subtle sweetness to dishes. We sprinkle it in our Spiced Dukkah Chicken and Indian-Spiced Chickpea Curry Bowl!
Their Health Benefits
Peppers are pretty fantastic on the nutrient front. Whether you like your bell peppers sautéed, pickled, or diced, you’ll reap some impressive benefits. Because of their high fiber content, eating peppers regularly can help boost your digestive health. They also contain an anticoagulant that can reduce the risk of heart attacks. Peppers have a high vitamin C count as well, which can step up your immune system.
Why Color Counts
While perusing the produce section at the supermarket, you may have spotted quite a few pepper colors. Bell peppers are typically green, orange, red, yellow, and sometimes even purple. Green peppers are picked unripe, and are the least flavorful of the crew. However, they make up for it in vitamin C and B6. Yellow bells are neutrally sweet and fantastic sources of folate & niacin, while orange varieties are slightly sweeter and higher in vitamin B6 and antioxidants. The sweetest are red peppers, and they have the highest nutritional value overall. Reds also deserve a special shoutout for their high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Including Peppers in Our Diet
Raw peppers are vital additions to crudite platters and outstanding vessels for homemade hummus. You can get crazy in the kitchen with them, too. Sauté thin slivers in a stir fry, stuff halves with chicken and cheese, or purée a few red peppers into a creamy soup. If you’re not feeling up to cooking a full meal for yourself, we’ve got pepper-packed options on our menu. Our Middle Eastern Falafel Bowl and Shrimp & Andouille Paella feature juicy red and our Unwrapped Salsa Verde Burrito has diced yellow.
Whether they’re roasted, marinated, diced, or dipped, bell peppers make a deliciously nutritious addition to any meal!