¡Caliente!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Party Time, Things We Love

Shutterstock_833796I absolutely love spicy food! It all started when I was working for a Cajun restaurant during college. I just couldn’t get enough of the tingly heat that jambalaya, gumbo and those sinful shrimp and grits had to offer. My spicy love affair continues to this day with Thai curry dishes, hot salsas, sushi with wasabi, oysters covered with horseradish, and of course, I add hot sauce to pretty much anything. If you can take the heat, hot peppers, curry powders and horseradish can inspire great recipes. These natural hot shots can add zing and zest to your diet, and they are also a great way to spice-up your meal planning!

Skin Benefits Of Peppers and Chilies
Hot peppers, like habañero, jalapeño, chili, cayenne and serrano, can vary in heat, but they all have daring and delectable benefits. Chilies and peppers are packed with vitamins A and C, and nowadays, Vitamin C is used for more than a case of the sniffles! It helps form collagen and aids in skin repair and healing. Vitamin C also fights free radicals, byproducts of metabolized cells, and it helps guard against ultraviolet rays. Vitamin A restores moisture to dry skin (A deficiency will make skin flakey!), and it also brightens, lightens and reduces sags and discoloration.    

What makes these fiery peppers so spicy is a component called capsaicin, Shutterstock_3406369and it brings more than scorching flavor to the table. The hotness  of a pepper is measured by the amount of capsaicin it contains on The Scoville Scale, ranging from low-heat pimentos, to jalapeños in the middle, to habañeros on the super spicy side. Capsaicin is a natural anti-inflammatory and blood thinner, which is helpful when you’re retaining water or feeling swollen. Capsaicin can help fight blood clots and improve circulation, and improved blood flow makes you look and feel healthy and beautiful. It makes your body release endorphins and is also used as a natural pain reliever. Adding peppers to your diet can increase your metabolism and suppress appetite, and I don’t know about you; but I love anything that is tasty and helps me stay fit!

Healing Properties of Curries and Horseradish
Curries are used in Asian cuisines across the continent, and they are absolutely delicious! Curries are actually a blend of many different spices, like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and black pepper. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, and ironically, these spices are used for stomach troubles and good digestion.  Turmeric, known for its yellow color, is great on eggs and is found in mustards. It has healing properties and helps out damaged skin. Cinnamon is a natural antioxidant that can reduce stress and fight skin infections. Black pepper adds a great kick to many dishes around the world, and it helps break down fat cells. Cumin is also very popular in Middle Eastern and South American dishes, and this ingredient boosts digestion power and is a great source of iron.

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Horseradish has to be one of my favorite condiments. I can’t get enough of that blazing prickle in my nose when I eat it. Horseradish and its Japanese counterpart, wasabi, are roots with some serious kick. Though their flavor is intense, the heat does not linger on your tongue nearly as long as when you eat a hot pepper. The spicy sensation deteriorates quickly. Horseradish has anti bacterial properties, and it’s an expectorant, meaning it is great for chest and sinus congestion.  Horseradish and Wasabi are bursting with antioxidants, iron, calcium and vitamin C, and these roots have been used to help fight many minor infections. If horseradish by itself is too hot for you, you can find all kinds of wacky condiment mixes, like horseradish brown mustard, wasabi mayonnaise and spicy cocktail sauce. Adding some healthy excitement to your dinner plate is as easy as strolling down the spice aisle of the grocery store!  Who knew that spices could be the spice of life?