1444350466_43d2dcf302_z

(photo: John Winkelman)

We all know that eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables can greatly reduce your risk for cancer, but incorporating vegetables into your diet isn’t always an easy task. They can be intimidating!

One easy, fun (and colorful!) way to incorporate more vegetables into your dishes this summer is to try cooking with peppers. High in vitamin A and C, peppers add punches of flavor and nutrients to your dish.

3 ways to cook peppers this summer:

  • Grill them. Grilled peppers have chard outsides and soft juicy insides, delicious to eat alone, as a side or add to a sandwich. Turn up your grill to medium and brush the grill with olive oil. Cut peppers into halves and put skin side down on the grill. Turn occasionally for 6-8 minutes until peppers are soft.
  • Sauté them. Sautéed peppers pair nicely with vegetables and just about any protein, especially red meat and chicken. To sauté peppers, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a non-stick pan on medium heat. Remove seeds and ribs from peppers and slice into thin strips. Cook for 8-10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add ½ onion and 2 cloves of garlic for more flavor.
  • Eat them raw. Raw peppers are crunchy and juicy. Adding raw peppers is a great way to add flavor to no cook dishes like salad, guacamole or salsa.

Most importantly: How much heat can you handle?

Heat Factor: 0yellow bell pepper
Bell Pepper: Sweet and crunchy, these peppers have zero heat to them. Bell peppers come in a variety of colors: red, orange and yellow. Bell peppers sauté well with other vegetables and can be grilled for a chard flavor.

Heat factor: 3-5
Jalapeno: These peppers vary in heat depending on if you leave the seeds in. Without the seeds, a jalapeno can be fairly mild. Leave the seeds in and you might be reaching for the nearest water fountain to cool off. Jalapenos are a grass green color and work best in salsa, sliced on nachos or stuffed.

Heat Factor: 10Fire
Habanero Chili: Known to be one of the hottest chilies around, the habanero is only for those who like extremely hot food. The pepper comes in a light green to bright orange color, and can be eaten raw, pureed to make a sauce, or chopped and added into dishes. Just remember to warn your friends before they bite into one of these.

Peppers are a great way to add more vegetables and flavor to your dishes. Paired with frequent exercise, regular check-ups and a no-smoke lifestyle, eating a healthy diet filled with veggies can greatly reduce your risk for cancer. Get creative with your cooking and give these tasty peppers a try!