Eat your vegetables! My poor mother. To this day she will tell you that as a kid I was a picky eater. As often as not, this led to a battle of wills at the dinner table, as I would push food around my plate in a failed attempt to make it look like I’d eaten more than I had; consequently, I would be firmly instructed to remain at the table until I finished my meal.
Unless it was summer. Summertime came and I couldn’t get enough.
I would wolf down corn and carrots, green beans and peas, you name it. But—being the “picky eater” that I was, I only liked them fresh from the garden and raw. She couldn’t understand it, and frankly, I never thought about it. I liked what I liked and I didn’t like what I didn’t like. Simple? Well, as it turns out…yeah. Because there is a world of difference between raw, garden-fresh peas and carrots and that frozen Green Giant medley, boiled to mushiness and then drenched in margarine and salt. And that was the difference between my summer eating habits and the rest of the year.
To be clear, I’m not picking on Mom here. She happens to be a great cook. It’s just that when it came to vegetables, we were on seriously different tracks. She couldn’t understand, for instance, when I went to college and became a vegetarian. “You hate vegetables,” she said, kind of incredulously, when I told her. It was then that we both realized where our tastes diverged. Some people have a-ha moments, this was more like a “duh” realization.
One of the most glaring examples was the bell pepper. Mom couldn’t understand why I would eat raw green peppers like candy and then balk when she made stuffed peppers. Once again, raw peppers won out over the cooked ones. It also turns out that—to this day—I much prefer the red, orange and yellow ones over green. Plus, the green ones give me a serious case of the hiccups.
This biggest takeaway from this little tale is that I learned to listen to my body. I love the majority of my vegetables raw, or at the very least, cooked only until they are crisp-tender. They taste better, in my opinion, and (fact) they tend to be far more nutritious. That is what my body was telling me—they taste better, they’re better for you and they make you feel better. Better, better, better.
Bell peppers are amazing… not only do they satisfy a taste for something sweet and crunchy, but they are also packed with nutrition. They’re an excellent source of Vitamin A (good for your peepers) and did you know… one cup of raw red bell peppers has more than twice the amount of Vitamin C than your typical orange. Who knew? Not to mention, bell peppers have great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They’re low in fat and very nutrient-dense. But most of all, they’re delicious!
Here’s why bell peppers are a good Conscious Shopping pick. I’ve done a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and have come up with some fun, easy recipes–like my own version of stuffed peppers (which I love and will share in a future post). I’m a big fan of stir-fries because you can add basically whatever vegetables you want which is a great way to use up odds and ends from other recipes. You can eat them raw with hummus or your favorite healthy dip…OR you can check them out in this seriously delicious bell pepper salad…
Bell Pepper Salad with Mozzarella
- 6 to 8 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), cored and sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 10 to 20 pitted black olives, sliced
- 10 to 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered lenthwise
- 1/2 tin of anchovies in oil (sustainably harvested), finely minced (retain the oil)
- 1/3 C fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- Extra virgin olive oil, to coat
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste`
- Step 1 Combine peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic and olives in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly.
- Step 2 Add olive oil and toss to coat
- Step 3 Add minced anchovies with their oil and mix together thoroughly.
- Step 4 Add cheese and toss.
- Step 5 Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Step 6 Note: You will not need a lot of salt in this dish
- Step 7 Garnish with a few lemon thyme leaves, if desired.