How gutsy are your meals?By Oxygen's Staff Blog|Oxygen Staff|2012-11-27 | Comments: 0-Kasia Kurek, Health Editor
I have a friend who puts Tabasco sauce on everything.Chicken. Soups. Mashed potatoes. I’m pretty sure it’s the secret ingredient in her morning oatmeal.
When we were in the fourth grade, she almost got suspended from school for bringing “suicide sauce” chicken wings from the pizza shop across the street and challenging all the boys to beat her at withstanding the heat.
Standing just below five feet tall at roughly 100 pounds, her appetite for mouth-scorching meals usually surprises people. Certainly, the staff at a local restaurant was stunned when she finished an entire plate of their hottest wings and won her meal for free. They told us grown men who tried the challenge couldn’t get through the spice and had to scramble to bring her a makeshift winner’s trophy.
In comparison to my friend, I’ve always been a wuss when it comes to eating hot foods. Just a whiff of her plate is usually enough to get me coughing and tearing up.
I’m the kind of woman who considered garlic as a spicy food. I once tried “medium” salsa in university. Wild, I know.
But, a few months ago, I started to experiment more. Not only did I serendipitously fall in love with everything chipotle after risking it on a particular brand of hummus, but I spent two weeks on my honeymoon in Mexico, where spicy guacamole, tacos and soups were the norm.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t get enough of hot foods. Funny how that happened.
I’m still experimenting with just how far I can push my taste buds, but so far, I’m finding that food with a little “kick” has much more flavor and leaves me feeling more energized and “awake” than just the ol’ salt and pepper.
And, of course, there are health benefits.
Cayenne peppers, for example, help to improve circulation, fight digestive tract infections and boost metabolic rate by as much as 25 percent.
Chile peppers, which are high in a compound called capsaicin, have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to clear up congestion.
And turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, also known for its anti-inflammatory properties that helps to ease joint pain caused by sports and exercise. In addition, thermogenic foods and spices heat up the body’s temperature, helping to burn fat.
Sounds like my friend was on to something, after all.
Below, one of my favorite recipes for a spicy, Mexican-inspired soup I just “had to” learn how to make once returning home from my trip. You can adjust the amount of chipotle peppers, depending on your preference – and guts.
1. In a food processor or blender, mix together: Half a can of crushed tomatoes, 1 large onion, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 1-3 tablespoons of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can purchase this in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store) and 1 tablespoon of salt.
2. Heat the mixture in a saucepan or pot, adding 4 cups of chicken broth and a few strips of cooked chicken breast. (Vegetarians can use vegetable broth and omit the chicken.) Bring to a boil.
3. Serve garnished with chopped avocado and baked tortilla strips (cut up tortillas, brush with olive oil and bake in the oven.)
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