Colorado’s green chile is scrumptious and packed full of nutrients

Sept. 8, 2021
A photo of roasted Colorado green chile peppers.
Green chile is packed full of flavor and nutrients, and we love to use it in Colorado. Photo: Getty Images.

Green chile peppers pop, blister and turn a delicious dark green in roasters that give off an irresistible, smoky scent this time of year.

Coloradans love green chile. We celebrate with festivals and chile cook-offs while loading our freezers with Ziploc bags full of pungent goodness. While delicious, green chile is also full of nutrients, especially vitamins A and C and capsaicin, a chemical compound that gives green chile heat.

“The flavor is wonderfully unique, but green chile is healthy for you and low in calories,’’ said Sharon Pope, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who has worked at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs for 33 years. “Green chile only makes food better, from a taste standpoint and a nutritional standpoint as well.’’

Pope, who has been making sure patients in the hospitals have healthy food, is proud that UCHealth offers green chile in its cafes and on patient menus at its hospitals in southern Colorado.

“It’s Colorado,’’ she said, “It’s the law.’’

Green chile is wonderful

Green chile is great in scrambled eggs, as salsa or as an appetizer. Any which way, green chile peppers are low in calories – only 30 calories in a half-cup. It’s also low in sodium.

Some of the best green chile in the world is grown in Pueblo County, Colorado.  Whether you pick Anaheims, Big Jims, or Mirasol – also called Pueblo chiles — you’ll enjoy a scrumptious blend of flavor and heat.

“When you add green chile to eggs, beans or meat, you don’t need to use as much salt or fat to add flavor because it’s coming from the chile,’’ Pope says.

Here are some of Pope’s favorite factoids about this nutritional heavyweight:

FACT: ½ a cup of green chile has 182 mg of Vitamin C. That’s phenomenal. By comparison, a medium orange has 70 mg of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps boost the immune system and limit cell damage. In this time of COVID-19, boosting your immune system can help keep you strong.

FACT: Green chile is chock-full of Vitamin A, another antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage. Because Vitamin A is stable, it remains in chile when it is canned, dried or frozen, which is important since a lot of green chile comes in these forms.

FACT: The heat in hot peppers comes from capsaicin, which has beneficial properties. It’s used in some commercial pain relief.

“I wouldn’t rub these peppers on your skin,’’ Pope says. “Hot peppers have chemical properties called capsaicinoids and when humans or other animals touch capsaicinoids, it sends a sensation to the brain that the pepper is hot. When this is added to pain relief patches, it creates a heat sensation that is soothing to aching joints.’’

Pope, who grows jalapeno and green chile in pots in her backyard, says people can eat green chile fresh. Most people roast green chile to remove the skins.

FACT: The more chile peppers ripen, the hotter they get. Seeds and veins are the hottest parts of the pepper. The closer the meat is to the stem, the hotter it is. Even if you remove the seed pod and the vein, the pepper is hottest near the stem.

How to roast green chile

Wear gloves when handling peppers. Do not touch your face or eyes. To roast or “blister’’ green chile, place the peppers on a cookie sheet and under the broiler, or lay on a barbecue grill. Grill them until the skin blisters or blackens. Remove from the grill or broiler, place in a bowl and cover with Saran wrap or aluminum foil. Allow the chile to rest for 15 minutes, then the skins are easier to remove and the stems and seeds can be removed as desired.

Recipe: Pueblo Green Chile from “All Things Pueblo’’

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of diced pork
6-8 Pueblo roasted green chile peppers, skin removed, cut into small pieces
1 small yellow onion diced
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of flour (approx.)
30 ounces of water or chicken broth (your choice)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes or 1 (12 ounces) can of Rotel tomatoes & chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, brown pork in oil until the meat is slightly pink.
  2. Add onion and garlic, cook until they become soft. Add flour and stir, browning flour-like if you were making gravy.
  3. Add water (or chicken broth) slowly and keep stirring until it’s bubbling.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low.

Tip: For picky eaters who don’t like chunks of tomato, peppers, or RoTel, place the ingredients into a blender and puree.

Vegetarian green chile recipe

Ingredients:

2 medium- to-large onions, diced

3 T. canola oil

1 can of diced tomatoes, 14.5 ounces

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 t. chili powder (or more or less to taste)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 c. vegetarian broth

3 cups (or 24 ounces) chopped, roasted green chile (fresh or fresh frozen), mild, medium or hot, depending on your preference

Directions:

Saute chopped onions in the canola oil for five to 10 minutes until they are browned. Add the diced tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add salt, chili powder and cumin and stir well. Add broth, then green chiles. Simmer for few minutes, but don’t overcook the chiles. Serve with tortillas toasted on the stove or grill or with any of your favorite dishes like eggs or breakfast burritos.

Common uses:

Served in bowl
Smothered burritos
Inside breakfast burritos
Open face hamburgers
Smothered enchiladas

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.

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