The bell pepper (Capsicum annuum), often mistaken for a vegetable, is really a nutritious fruit with great health benefits. Bell peppers, or sweet peppers, are brightly hued and beautifully bell-shaped, ringing with high flavor and nutritional notes.
Bell peppers come in a rainbow of shades—green, red, white, yellow, orange, purple, brown, and even black. Powerful, disease-fighting phytochemicals called carotenoids give the bell pepper its vibrant colors. Members of the nightshade family, which includes eggplants, tomatoes, and chili peppers, bell peppers may be eaten at any stage of growth, though their vitamin and nutrient content peaks at full ripeness. These fruits are bursting with vitamins: a one-cup serving boasts 317 percent Daily Value (DV) of the antioxidant vitamin C—more than twice that of an orange! That same serving contains a host of vitamins, including 93 percent DV of vitamin A, 22 percent DV of vitamin B6, and 12 percent DV of vitamin E.
Bell peppers contain more than 30 different carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Reduced oxidative stress helps lower cancer risk. Increased consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids is associated with long-term reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration. Eat bell peppers raw or gently cooked to maintain optimal health properties.
Creamy Vegetable Noodle Soup
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil, coconut oil, or water
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
12 oz. baby red potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
1 15-oz. can garbanzos, drained
2 cups unsweetened, unflavored dairy free milk of choice (save aside ½ cup)
½ cup cashews, blended in 1 ½ cups milk
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
8 oz. package pasta of choice
Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, set aside.
Heat oil or water in soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery; sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add carrots, bell pepper, potatoes and garlic; sauté until starting to soften. Add oregano, rosemary, thyme and salt. Stir in garbanzos.
Pour in ½ cup milk, vegetable broth, and nutritional yeast. Stir. Bring to a boil. Then simmer until vegetables are tender. Add blended cashew/milk mixture; heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. May use fresh herbs if available. Add desired amount of pasta to soup bowl. Ladle in soup.