When it comes to vitamin C and beta-carotene, sweet bell peppers are among the most nutrient dense foods you can buy. Combine them with a carrot and parsley salad and you’ll be ‘stuffed with antioxidants’.
Did you know the redder the pepper, the more beta-carotene it contains? Beat-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, which means that it helps to fight inflammation in the body. It’s only obtained from the diet, and is used in our body as it is needed.
Few vegetables contain as much beta-carotene as the sweet red pepper. That’s why whoever received the red peppers in the meal above, prepared by my daughter, would have eaten more beta-carotene than the person who ate the orange pepper.
One pepper has 4 milligrams of beta-carotene, 40-66% of the recommended daily amount. This is important because beta-carotene turns to Vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene can provide potent protection against cataracts. With macular degeneration occurring in numerous women as they age, it’s important to maintain levels of Vitamin A in the body.
Sweet red peppers also contain generous amounts of vitamin C. Half a cup of chopped pepper contains 142 milligrams of vitamin C, that’s 236% of the Daily Value. That’s more than twice the amount you would get from a medium sized orange. As I often say to women on my programmes, we need Vitamin C to help reduce the ageing spots on our skin, with the decline in collagen that occurs as we age. It’s all very well taking expensive collagen supplements, but Vitamin C is what is needed to help synthesise (make) collagen.
Since vitamin C is fragile, it’s easily destroyed by cooking. Eating peppers raw will enable you to get the most vitamin C. On the other hand, beta-carotene needs a little heat to release it from the fiber cells. To get the most of both nutrients, you could steam or sauté them, so they still have a little bit of crunch.
So why don’t you try these delicious stuffed red peppers this weekend?
The main filling is cooked organic brown rice, which will ensure that you should stay full even though you may consider this a light meal. I also mixed in some of my other favourite Mediterranean flavours like olives and feta, but really you can use any vegetables and drizzle these with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Beta-carotene and fat – Did you know that in order for beta-carotene to be absorbed into the blood stream, it needs to be paired with a little fat? Drizzling the stuffed peppers with a little bit of olive oil will help you get the most of this compound.
- Bell peppers (enough to feed your family)
- Olive Oil (for baking and topping)
- Cooked brown rice (enough to feed your family)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 onion (or spring onion), chopped
- 1 x courgette, grated
- Feta cheese, crumbled
- Olives, chopped
- Herbs of your choice (e.g. basil, parsley)
- Heat oven to 180 C fan bake and start cooking the brown rice on the stove.
- Cut peppers in half and brush with olive oil. Put on a baking try and bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven.
- Quickly fry the garlic, onion and grated courgette in a pan. I also put a tsp of cumin in for flavour.
- Once the rice is cooked, transfer to a bowl and add in the tomato paste, onion & garlic mix, feta and olives.
- Pile the ingredients into the peppers and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Top with herbs of your choice and a dash of extra olive oil.