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A Hot Little Number

Cathy Christensen September 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
ariel view of peppers

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Peppers are a common addition to both everyday and gourmet cooking, with a huge range of flavors, textures and colors that support many entrees. Who knew the red pepper also had a secret ingredient that can help with anti-aging whims and circulation woes. Although not recommended as a food for those who suffer from rosacea, red pepper is becoming a hot addition to many spas’ anti-aging arsenals.

In the kitchen

Summer and early fall are the seasons red peppers are at their peak for flavor, and those with deep, vivid colors, taut, clear skin and healthy-looking green stems are the best choices for cuisine. The spicy veggies provide a heaping helping of alpha tocopheral vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, and have more vitamin Cthan oranges. Lycopene, which is becoming famous for lowering men’s risk of prostate cancer, is what provides the bright red color of the plant, and although red bell peppers and red hot peppers are in the same family, red hot peppers have higher levels of capsaicin, which gives the hot pepper its heat and is being researched for its affect on fat cells.1 In fact, researchers recently found that capsaicin prevented early fat cells from becoming full-fledged fat cells.2

A colorful ingredient in Ludlow, Vermont’s, Green Mountain at Fox Run’s Summertime Potato Salad, red bell pepper can also be found in Gilman, Illinois’, The Heartland Spa’s Chili Seared Salmon with Sweet Pepper Salsa. Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in Ainsworth Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada offers a Roasted Red Pepper Soup, and the pepper is a star ingredient in the Vegetable Lasagna at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah. Check out the delicious Spa Burrito from Executive Chef William Mendez at New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New York.

In the spa

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Recipe: Spa Burrito

From Executive Chef William Mendez at New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New YorkSpa burrito

Makes 8 servings, 239 calories per serving


2 cups boiled and pureed black beans

1 cup sliced red bell pepper

1 cup sliced green bell pepper

4 chopped garlic cloves

2 cups julienned onion

2 cups medium diced or shredded zucchini

2⁄3 cup sweet corn kernels

2 cups medium diced tomato

1 teaspoon chili powder

1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

2 cups part skim milk mozzarella cheese

8 low-fat refrigerated flour tortillas

Instructions for bean puree:

1. Drain cooked beans and place in food processor. Puree the beans on low until smooth. If beans are too dry, add a little water or lime juice to moisten them.

Instructions for vegetable mixture:

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.

2. Place peppers, onions and garlic in the pan, and sauté until soft.

3. Add tomato; cook an additional five minutes.

4. Add the zucchini, corn kernels, tomato and spices; sauté for another five minutes.

5. Remove from heat and set aside.

To build the burrito:

1. Place the tortilla on a flat surface and spread 1/4 cup of bean puree over the top.

2. Spoon about 1/3 cup of vegetable mixture over the tortilla and spread evenly.

3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese over the burrito filling and roll up.

4. Place the burrito on a baking sheet and heat in a 350°F oven for five minutes before serving.

Red Pepper: Quick Facts

  • Christopher Columbus found red peppers when he tasted what he thought were hot berries in the Caribbean.3
  • Columbus thought he was in India, where black pepper was found, so he called the berries “red pepper.”3
  • Before Columbus, however, native people in the Americas had been enjoying the peppers for approximately 7,000 years.3
  • Peppers are from the genus “capsicum,” from the Greek word kapto which means “to bite.”3
  • The types of peppers range from the sweet green pepper to the habeñero and lethal Scotch bonnet.3

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