In this edition of Tasty Table, we are excited to introduce two foods starting with the letter P!

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

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 in 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 over 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 the normal functioning of our heart, lungs, kidneys and many other organs.

Potatoes

Just like peppers, potatoes 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.

One cup of sweet potato (with the skin) provides adults with nearly 1/3 of our daily Vitamin B6 needs and children with. 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 also helps process the carbohydrates we eat, it boosts immune function and helps build red blood cells. For children, it 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 a Tortilla Lasagna (see recipe below) or add a side of sweet potato fries and enjoy eating the alphabet.

Tortilla Lasagna

Recipe Adapted from cookingmatters.com

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 4 ounces 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 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 ounces Queso Fresco or Feta cheese
  • 1 (10-ounce) can green chile or enchilada sauce
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel, rinse, and chop onion. Peel and mince garlic.
  3. Wipe any soil off mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Cut into thin slices.
  4. Rinse bell pepper. Remove core and seeds. Cut into thin strips.
  5. Rinse spinach. Tear or chop into pieces.
  6. Rinse and peel sweet potato. Shred using the large holes of a box grater.
  7. Grate white cheddar cheese.
  8. Tear tortillas in half.
  9. In a 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.
  10. In a medium bowl, crumble Queso Fresco or Feta. Add grated white cheddar. Stir to mix cheeses.
  11. Spray the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Layer 9 tortilla halves over the bottom, with the flat edges against the side of the dish and the rounded pieces overlapping in the center. Cover the tortillas with ½ of the cooked vegetables. Drizzle ½ of the enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle ½ of the cheese. Layer the remaining 9 tortilla halves over the cheese. Add another layer using the remaining vegetables, sauce, and cheese.
  12. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil.
  13. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Keep baking until cheese on top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes more.

Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe adapted from cookingmatters.com

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Optional

  • 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Scrub and rinse sweet potatoes. Pat dry with a paper or kitchen towel.
  3. Leaving skin on, cut sweet potatoes into thick French fry strips, about ½-inch wide.
  4. In a large bowl, mix paprika, salt, ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add oil. Blend with a fork until there are no lumps.
  5. Add sweet potato strips to the bowl. Toss until they are coated on all sides.
  6. Coat baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Place sweet potatoes in a single layer on the sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn fries over and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until fries are tender.1. Preheat oven to 450°F.