It’s green bell pepper time in southeast Ohio and this versatile veggie provides a sweet summertime crunch without the fiery spice of some of its pepper cousins. Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers, are a terrific source of vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium and copper.

Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, most commonly green, yellow, orange and red. Although bell peppers exhibit different colors, they actually all come from the same plant. Ever wonder why green peppers are cheaper than other bell peppers? That’s because they’re actually unripe. Bell peppers start out as green and then change to yellow and orange during the ripening process. A fully ripe bell pepper is red. Because they take longer to harvest, red bell peppers are typically the most expensive. So which color bell pepper is right for you? It depends on the dish and how sweet you prefer your pepper. The longer the bell pepper is on the vine, the sweeter its flavor becomes. This is also true for the nutritional value of bell peppers. Ripened red peppers contain 11 times more beta-carotene, twice as much vitamin C and 10 times more vitamin A compared to young green peppers. The downside of red peppers is their shorter shelf life. 

When one thinks of peppers, spicy heat often comes to mind. However, bell peppers register as a zero on the Scoville scale, the measurement used to rank the heat/spiciness of food. Compare this to 2,500-4,000 Schoville Heat Units of jalapeños and 200,000-500,000 SHU of Mexican habanero peppers. Green bell peppers have a fresh, crisp texture, making them perfect to include in your late summer dishes. Bell peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Use raw pepper strips as a vessel for hummus and dips, sprinkle some chopped peppers on a salad, or saute them with onions to use in a variety of Mexican inspired dishes.

Turkey stuffed bell peppers

Ingredients:

  • Four medium bell peppers, halved
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup brown rice cooked
  • ½ cup shredded lite Mexican cheese blend
  • Chopped scallions and fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions:

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place sliced peppers into the dish cut side down. Add ½ cup of water to bottom of dish, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a skillet and cook onion until translucent. Add turkey and seasonings. Once meat is browned, add black beans, salsa and brown rice. Spoon evenly into each pepper half. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and add shredded cheese on top of each stuffed pepper. Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with chopped scallions and cilantro if desired.

The Athens Farmers Market Café is a collaboration between the Athens Farmers Market, OU COMCorps (a local Americorps program), and Athens County Children Services. Athens Farmers Market hours are Wednesdays (April-December) and Saturdays (year-round) from 9 a.m. to noon at The Market on State parking lot, 1000 E. State St., Athens. To help increase fresh food consumption, the Athens Farmers Market vendors proudly participate in the following social service programs: the USDA Food Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Participants can stop by the table at the southeast corner of the market to get SNAP tokens to spend at the market.

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