When the chill returns to the evening air, cold and flu season is usually a companion. And while today's average diet is hardly deficient enough in Vitamin C to cause concern about scurvy, some still find that an orange or a tomato a day is a bitter pill to swallow for a little extra winter protection.
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) performs a number of duties in the body. It has a primary role in the formation of collagen, a protein that facilitates connective functions in the system. Thus, it is important for healing wounds and repairing tissues and has been implicated in the prevention of cell-destroying diseases such as cancer.
A water-soluble vitamin, it is highly volatile and easily destroyed if exposed to water or heat or when coupled with traces of copper and iron. For this reason, it is recommended that fruits and vegetables containing ascorbic acid be consumed raw or be cooked with as little heat and water contact as possible. It is also suggested that Vitamin C be replaced in the diet every day because body stores are continuously depleted.
As little as 10 milligrams of ascorbic acid has been recommended to prevent scurvy. But the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance varies: 60 milligrams is recommended for males and females older than 14, 35 milligrams for infants, 45 to 50 milligrams for children, 80 milligrams for pregnant women and 100 milligrams during lactation.
There are a variety of food sources that meet this requirement. Citrus and other acidic fruits such as tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple and guavas are excellent sources. Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, cabbage and turnips are good sources but vary in the amount of the vitamin they contribute to the diet. Green peppers are a superior source.
Whole fruits are preferred over juices. Vegetables should be prepared by steaming in a pressure cooker or microwave in a small amount of water and should be cooked for the minimum amount of time. Combine a number of vegetables with high ascorbic acid content in recipes like those that follow and it will be easy to keep body stores of Vitamin C at a safe level.
POTATO-CHEESE STUFFED PEPPERS
6 small green peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 slices bacon
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups diced cooked potatoes
1 cup diced Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
Wash peppers. Cut thin slice from stem end of each and remove seeds. Place peppers in saucepan with boiling water to cover and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, bring to boil and boil 5 minutes. Remove from water and invert to drain.
Cook bacon until lightly browned. Drain and crumble. Reserve drippings. Cook onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons drippings until tender. Add potatoes, cheese, celery, crumbled bacon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Mix well and spoon into peppers.
Mix bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon drippings. Sprinkle over tops of peppers and place in casserole. Cover and bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until tender. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer to brown crumbs. Makes 6 servings.
PER SERVING: 299 calories; 10 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrate; 21 grams fat; 868 milligrams sodium; 469 milligrams potassium.
Protein 16% Riboflavin 13% Vitamin A 13% Niacin 09% Vitamin C 181% Calcium 20% Thiamine 15% Iron 09%
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (7-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large green peppers
6 tomato slices, cut 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Lightly brown ground pork in large skillet. Pour off drippings. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper over meat. Add soup, corn and onion. Cook slowly 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut green peppers in half lengthwise and remove membrane and seeds. Cook in boiling salted water 2 minutes. Invert and drain. Fill pepper halves with meat mixture and place on wire rack in roasting pan. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt on both sides of tomato slices and place on top of stuffed peppers. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 15 minutes longer. Makes 6 servings.
PER SERVING: 433 calories; 22 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrate; 31 grams fat; 929 milligrams sodium; 589 milligrams potassium.
Protein 34% Riboflavin 21% Vitamin A 17% Niacin 30% Vitamin C 146% Calcium 09% Thiamine 64% Iron 21%
SKILLET QUICK STUFFED PEPPERS
1/2 pound skinless pork sausage links, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups water
3 medium green peppers
1/2 teaspoon dry basil leaves
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Brown sausage and onion in large skillet until onion is tender. Stir in rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 can tomato paste and 2 cups water. Mix thoroughly. Bring to boil, stirring. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 7 minutes.