If you like your meals with a good dose of heat, you may be helping your health along with pleasing your taste buds. Chili peppers have been used medicinally for centuries. In lab and animal studies, they have shown anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, and blood-pressure-lowering properties. And in small human studies, they have been shown to decrease resting heart rate, lower insulin levels, alter immune function, and have modest beneficial effects on cholesterol and blood sugar—though this doesn’t mean they will actually prevent cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or any other condition. Here are seven recipes to delight those who like it hot.
Using lean turkey breast instead of beef substantially reduces the amount of saturated fat in this delicious, spicy stew. You might want to wear thin rubber gloves when you’re chopping the jalapeño peppers; otherwise, immediately wash your hands in warm soapy water after handling them. With or without gloves, do not touch your eyes while in the midst of cutting these hot peppers. And don’t forget to wash the utensils and cutting board after use, to avoid spreading undesired heat to other foods.
The unexpected addition of carrot juice lends a bright color, a slightly sweet note, and some beta carotene to this gazpacho recipe, while the shrimp make it hearty enough to serve as an entrée. Try making one of the flavored tortilla chip recipes from our Homemade Chips Recipe Creator to go along with it; you’ll stay full and satisfied until dinner.
The spicy ground-meat-and-vegetable combination known as picadillo hails from Cuba and Mexico. While it’s traditionally made with beef, this one is made leaner by substituting pork tenderloin. Another twist: Here the picadillo is used as a pasta sauce rather than served over rice, as is customary.
The pineapple juice, maple syrup, and soy sauce in this recipe may make you think you’re getting something sweet, but one bite into it you’ll taste the kick of cayenne pepper and ginger. We've used chicken thighs, which have more saturated fat than chicken breasts but are also higher in iron and some other minerals. Thighs also stay more moist and tender when cooked, compared to white meat.
Cod is a great choice for chowders and fish stews, since it’s not only low in fat but also has a sturdy texture that can stand up to being “stewed.” It comes in large steaks, too, so you can cut it into satisfying chunks. Getting a fresh, good-quality piece of fish is key to ensuring this spicy chowder tastes its best. Make sure you find a reliable fish market or supermarket fish counter, and schedule your shopping so you can get the seafood home and into the refrigerator as quickly as possible.
Low in fat and rich in protein, mussels supply an exceptional amount of vitamin B12. They are also a good source of iron and selenium, plus they contain some other B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. A dash of hot red pepper flakes adds both flavor and heat to this recipe’s simple sauce of onion, garlic, and wine.
Why eat cranberries only on Thanksgiving? Our version of this fall classic is spiked with hot spices—ground ginger, cloves, and black pepper—and can be used in a variety of ways. Some ideas: Spread the sauce on toast instead of jam (it even pairs well with peanut butter or cream cheese); stir it into plain yogurt or oatmeal; spoon it on top of pancakes, waffles, or French toast; use it as a condiment on cold sandwiches; or use it as a glaze for poultry or meat. You can also stir a little into barbecue sauce.
If you like hot dishes but exceed your tolerance, taking a swig of milk can counter the “mouth on fire” sensation. Ice cream, cheese, and yogurt are effective, too. Other remedies that help, but less so, include eating some carbohydrates like bread and sugar. But don’t count on alcohol or water: They’ll just spread the capsaicin (the primary substance that gives chilis their heat) through your mouth.