There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables that start with the letter P: peppers, pumpkins, potatoes, peas and parsnips are just a few. Let’s focus in on a few to learn more about their natural health benefits.
Peppers come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. The often familiar red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers that you find fresh and frozen at the grocery store are not only healthy, but easy to eat.
Bell peppers, which can be slightly sweet, are a great way to add color to a dish. Top off pizza with colorful chopped peppers, add them into lasagna or cut them and have them handy as an on-the-go snack to pair with a variety of dips. Peppers can be a great go-to!
One-half cup of sliced bell peppers provides us with more than 100 percent of our daily needs of vitamin C. Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to boost our immune system, but this vitamin also plays an important role in healing cuts and scrapes.
One cup of red bell peppers is also packed with vitamin A. Vitamin A supports excellent eyesight and also supports that normal functioning of our heart, lungs, kidneys and many other organs.
Just like peppers, potatoes also come in many colors: white, orange and purple. They can be baked, boiled or mashed to be a tasty addition to any meal.
Sweet potatoes in particular provide our bodies with vitamin A and vitamin C, just like bell peppers, but also provide us with vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. For people of any age, Vitamin B6 is used throughout the body for many different functions, but mainly boosts our ability to use the protein that we eat.
Vitamin B6 helps process the carbohydrates that we eat, it boosts immune function and also helps build red blood cells. For children, it also plays an important role in cognitive development.
Sweet potatoes are also packed with dietary fiber. Dietary fiber, simply, is portions of plant-based foods that are resistant to digestion. As a result of this resistance to digestion, dietary fiber helps us feel fuller longer. The health benefits of eating enough dietary fiber are endless: decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Our perfectly picked produce that starts with the letter P is not only tasty, but healthy, too Try adding some peppers into your dinner with this tortilla lasagna recipe or add a side of sweet potato fries and enjoy eating the alphabet.
Adapted from cookingmatters.com
1 medium yellow onion
3 medium cloves garlic
4 oz. mushrooms
1 medium green bell pepper
2 bunches fresh spinach
1 medium sweet potato
4 ounces low-fat white cheddar cheese
9 (6-inch) corn or whole wheat tortillas
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
5 oz. queso fresco or feta cheese
1 (10-ounce) can green chile or enchilada sauce
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel, rinse and chop onion. Peel and mince garlic. Wipe soil off mushrooms with damp paper towel. Cut into thin slices. Rinse bell pepper, remove core and seeds and cut into thin strips. Rinse spinach and tear or chop into pieces. Rinse and peel sweet potato. Shred using large holes of box grater. Grate white cheddar cheese. Tear tortillas in half. In large skillet over medium-low heat, heat oil. Add onions. Cook until transparent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper and oregano. Raise heat to high. Stir in shredded sweet potato. Cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes more. Stir in spinach. Cover and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. In medium bowl, crumble queso fresco or feta and add grated white cheddar, stirring to mix. Spray bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer nine tortilla halves over bottom, with flat edges against side of dish and the rounded pieces overlapping in center. Cover tortillas with half of cooked vegetables and drizzle half of enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle on half of cheese. Layer remaining tortilla halves over cheese. Add another layer of remaining vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese on top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes more.
Sweet Potato Fries
Recipe adapted from cookingmatters.com
4 medium sweet potatoes
1½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional: 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Scrub and rinse sweet potatoes, patting dry with towel. Leaving skin on, cut sweet potatoes into thick French fry strips, about ½-inch wide. In large bowl, mix paprika, salt, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper if desired. Add oil and blend with fork until there are no lumps. Add sweet potato strips to bowl and toss until coated on all sides. Coat baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place sweet potatoes in single layer on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn fries over and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until fries are tender.