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MY September 2012 : Page 56

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 SIMPLY NUTRITIOUS AND DELICIOUS by Dawn Bause This month before I leave town for my annual fall cooking tour in Italy, I make sure I hit a farmer’s market to stock up on red cayenne peppers. I grow these peppers in my garden, but I can’t grow enough to supply all my family and friends. I like drying them, and giving them away as gifts for the holidays. They are easy to dry, and taste nothing like the ones you buy at the store in the spice aisle. The cayenne pepper is known by a few different names: the cow horn pepper, the Guinea spice, the bird pepper and even the aleva pepper. It is named after the French Guinea city of Cayenne, and the cayenne pepper is used not only to spice up food, but also for medicinal purposes. Freshly dried and crushed cayenne peppers are bright reddish orange and, very piquant. They are a staple in my kitchen and in my cooking. I usually add them to a dish at the very end to finish it, as I do with my imported olive oils, sea salts and fresh cracked black pepper. Red cayenne pepper flakes allow me to really taste the food better since my taste buds are fired up and doing their job. There is more to cayenne than just heat. There are flavonoids in cayenne that will heal heart cells and help protect your heart. There are vitamins in cayenne pepper that destroy bacteria and increase your immune system. It triggers the blood to move faster throughout the body, to the head and brain, and can have positive effects on stress, vision, thinking, and memory. Cayenne also has other beneficial effects that include improving digestion and relieving pain. And, if that’s not enough, it has been proven as a way of burning fat by causing a slight temporary increase in your body temperature. This effect causes your metabolism to increase, helping you burn fat faster. With all these things going for it, cayenne pepper definitely falls into the “superfood” category. Do keep in mind that the older the pepper is, the less health benefits it it possesses, another reason why I like using cayenne pepper fresh or freshly dried. For drying, you want to let the peppers ripen until they’re fire-engine red. Green ones are OK for cooking and eating fresh. Homemade crushed red cayenne pepper flakes are easy to make, and a delicious addition to any spice cabinet. They can last from several months to a year if stored in a dry dark place. There are several ways to dry them. You can dry them in an oven, a food dehydrator; air-dry them indoors, or sun dry them outdoors. The food dehydrator is the quickest and easiest way to dry cayenne and any other type of chile pepper, as well as just about any fruit or vegetable. It’s a great investment and will yield a great turn on your money. A good one will cost around $60. I also, like slow drying them indoors for a couple weeks near a sunny window because they can be dried whole and still retain their bright red color. If possible, wear gloves when handling cayenne or other hot peppers. And be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching them. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, face, or any other sensitive area of your body after handling. 56 | MY Magaz i ne www . mymetroyou . com

Healthy Cooking 101

Dawn Bause


This month before I leave town for my annual fall cooking tour in Italy, I make sure I hit a farmer’s market to stock up on red cayenne peppers. I grow these peppers in my garden, but I can’t grow enough to supply all my family and friends. I like drying them, and giving them away as gifts for the holidays. They are easy to dry, and taste nothing like the ones you buy at the store in the spice aisle.

The cayenne pepper is known by a few different names: the cow horn pepper, the Guinea spice, the bird pepper and even the aleva pepper. It is named after the French Guinea city of Cayenne, and the cayenne pepper is used not only to spice up food, but also for medicinal purposes.

Freshly dried and crushed cayenne peppers are bright reddish orange and, very piquant. They are a staple in my kitchen and in my cooking. I usually add them to a dish at the very end to finish it, as I do with my imported olive oils, sea salts and fresh cracked black pepper. Red cayenne pepper flakes allow me to really taste the food better since my taste buds are fired up and doing their job.

There is more to cayenne than just heat. There are flavonoids in cayenne that will heal heart cells and help protect your heart. There are vitamins in cayenne pepper that destroy bacteria and increase your immune system. It triggers the blood to move faster throughout the body, to the head and brain, and can have positive effects on stress, vision, thinking, and memory. Cayenne also has other beneficial effects that include improving digestion and relieving pain. And, if that’s not enough, it has been proven as a way of burning fat by causing a slight temporary increase in your body temperature. This effect causes your metabolism to increase, helping you burn fat faster.

With all these things going for it, cayenne pepper definitely falls into the “superfood” category. Do keep in mind that the older the pepper is, the less health benefits it it possesses, another reason why I like using cayenne pepper fresh or freshly dried. For drying, you want to let the peppers ripen until they’re fire-engine red. Green ones are OK for cooking and eating fresh.

Homemade crushed red cayenne pepper flakes are easy to make, and a delicious addition to any spice cabinet. They can last from several months to a year if stored in a dry dark place.

There are several ways to dry them. You can dry them in an oven, a food dehydrator; air- dry them indoors, or sun dry them outdoors. The food dehydrator is the quickest and easiest way to dry cayenne and any other type of chile pepper, as well as just about any fruit or vegetable. It’s a great investment and will yield a great turn on your money. A good one will cost around $60. I also, like slow drying them indoors for a couple weeks near a sunny window because they can be dried whole and still retain their bright red color.

If possible, wear gloves when handling cayenne or other hot peppers. And be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching them. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, face, or any other sensitive area of your body after handling.

Inspect each pepper before starting the drying process. Discard peppers if they have:
• Soft, mushy, or spoiled areas
• White, grayish, or diseased-looking spots
• A questionable or rotten odor

If you’re drying in them in your oven or food dehydrator you may wish to slice the peppers length-wise (this will allow them to dry faster). If you’re drying the peppers indoors or outdoors in the sun, you may want to keep them whole to prevent premature spoilage.

Properly dried peppers should be devoid of any signs of moisture or soft “fleshiness”. Fully dried peppers can still retain a bit of flexibility in their skin - you don’t have to dry them until they’re brown, crumbling, or hard as a rock. But when in doubt, the pepper should be uniformly dry, slightly brittle, and have a tough skin.

What to do with them you’re done?
• Store them in high-quality ziploc-type plastic bags, plastic containers or small glass jam jars. This way you’ll always have a handy supply of dried peppers to use in sauces, soups, and other dishes.
• Crush them in a food processor, blender, or spice mill.
• Give them to family and friends as unique gifts so that they can spice up their own recipes.
• Save and plant the seeds for a new crop next summer.

Hope you’ll try drying your own red cayenne peppers this month, and start enjoying all the benefits of these amazing little peppers.

Until next month, Buon Appetito!.

Read the full article at http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Healthy+Cooking+101/1158811/123925/article.html.

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