In addition to being a fun way to jazz up all types of dishes, did you know that adding some heat to your meal actually has some pretty impressive health benefits?
Cayenne pepper has been shown to help speed up your metabolism, rid the body of LDL (or "bad") cholesterol, and normalize blood pressure. Read all about the health benefits of cayenne pepper here. A 2006 study even found that capsaicin, the main ingredient in cayenne pepper, can destroy prostate cancer cells, at least in lab tests.
Fresh chiles and other peppers are also a great source of antioxidant vitamins A and C, several important B vitamins, and minerals like potassium, iron, and copper.
Not a huge fan of BYFO (burn your face off) heat? Don't worry! Even small doses of fresh and dried peppers can impart some impressive health benefits, while adding amazing flavor to your favorite dishes.
You know what they say...some like it hot! And if you're one of them, these 5 recipes are sure to please your palate.
1. Muhammara Spread
- 3 medium-large red peppers
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted
- ½ cup hulled hemp seeds
- 2/3 cup cracker/bread crumbs (I pulsed some flax crackers in the food processor)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- 2 tbsp oil (I used hemp, but extra virgin olive oil would be yummy)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Roast the peppers: set your oven to the broil function. Place the whole peppers, stems and all, on a parchment lined baking sheet under the broiler. Once the skins start turning black, rotate them so that the non-blackened sides are facing up. Once all of the peppers are charred (about 15 minutes), remove from the oven.
- Place peppers in a bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap, forming a tight seal. Allow peppers to steam in the bowl for about 10 minutes. This makes the skin easier to peel off.
- Place toasted walnuts, hemp seeds, cracker crumbs, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, sriracha, agave nectar and oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times just to break up the nuts and garlic clove.
- Peel the peppers: when they're cool enough to handle, start peeling the skins off of the peppers. They should come off pretty easily, but if you're having trouble use the back of a knife to scrape the skin off. Remove the stems and as many seeds as you can.
- Add peeled peppers to the nut and seed mixture in the food processor. Flip it to high until the mixture starts to form a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides once or twice with a spatula. Add the 2 tbsp oil and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Pulse a few times to combine. Serve with flatbreads, veggie sticks, crackers, on sandwiches, whatever you like.
Gluten free, grain free, wheat free rice. Yes. Here I have for you an alternative to the typical grain. So tasty, simple, and a wonderful way to eat some cauliflower if you may be opposed otherwise. A healthy and quick side dish that's extremely customizable to fit any palate. You could even make this a meal if you add in some more veggies, legumes, gluten free pasta, and maybe even tofu/tempeh would be swell. Get the recipe HERE.
3. Corn Fritters With Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce
Fritters make a great appetizer or side dish, but always contain eggs, dairy, and white flour. These fritters have been veganized and are even more delicious than their counterparts. They are served with a homemade sweet chili sauce, as most sweet chili sauces contain fish sauce, and other modified ingredients. Get the recipe HERE.
3. Chipotle Chocolate Chili
Finally, a vegetarian chili for true chili lovers. With chipotle sausages, four kinds of chili powder, beer, coffee and chocolate, this is a truly intense chili. It has an edge of bitterness, a strong but not aggressive spiciness and a very subtle touch of sweetness. It's well worth searching out the ancho and New Mexico chili powders, as they add an authentic chili flavor. Get the recipe HERE.
4. Tempeh Do Pyaaza (Tempeh in Spicy Onion Curry)
"Do Pyaaza" literally means double onion. This Indian curry is a popular curry used in meat preparations. The earthy spices and the onions will remind most Indians of the roadside small shops serving greasy chicken or lamb curries. Get the recipe HERE.
tempeh do pyaaza
5. Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus
Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of Vitamin A around, and excellent at reducing inflammation. Combined with protein-rich chickpeas, a bit of healthy fat from olive oil, and good-for-you spices, this hummus is a nutritional all-star, and a delicious one at that. Get the recipe HERE.