My husband and I grew jalapeno peppers in our garden this year and made bowl after bowl of fresh salsa. After making a perfectly medium salsa and then a "so fiery hot you want to dip your whole head in a glass of milk" salsa, it made me realize how one type of pepper can have quite a long range in heat. That heat is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). A jalapeno pepper can have a score of 2,500 to 10,000 SHU. Of course, my two very different in heat salsas could have also been due to not scraping out the ribs well. The heat in a chili pepper is due to capsaicin, which contrary to popular belief, is mainly found in the ribs of the pepper, not the seeds.
Jalapeno peppers are the most widely available hot pepper. While they can produce a back-of-the-throat burn, they don't even compare to the hottest pepper in the world: the Carolina Reaper, which has more than 1.5 million SHU! The jalapeno is high in vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A. Just be sure to wear gloves when working with hot peppers to prevent burning your hands. Try jalapeno peppers in cornbread, stuffed in burgers, on top of pizza, made into jelly or jam, or of course, as poppers.
Mexican Jalapeno Poppers
15 whole fresh jalapeno peppers
1 cup fat-free refried beans
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 green onion, chopped
½ cup egg substitute or 2 whole eggs
½-¾ cup cornmeal, or panko crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine refried beans, cheese and green onion. Set aside. Cut off stems of peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and ribs with a small spoon. (Caution: wear plastic or rubber gloves while handling or cutting hot peppers, and do not touch your face). Fill each pepper half with about 2 teaspoons of the bean filling or until the pepper is full. Place egg substitute or lightly beaten whole eggs in a small bowl. In a separate shallow dish, pour in cornmeal or panko crumbs. Dip each pepper half in egg; then, roll in cornmeal or panko. Place all peppers on greased baking sheet. Bake 20-30 minutes.
Yield: 30 poppers
Nutritional analysis per 2 popper halves: 50 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 160 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams protein