On Memorial Day weekend, most of us turn up the heat. To grill, that is. From beer-soaked brats to portabello mushrooms and tenderloin, we gather around our bonfires and reconnect with loved ones.
Grilling is a great way to prepare healthier foods. Turning up the temperature reduces the need for creamy sauces or sneaky condiments, and helps keep your fat content down. But, there is more than one way to turn up the heat to torch fat.
When my husband and I were dating, we visited his friend in Chicago. Maneet was the head chef at a beautiful fusion restaurant called Vermillion. This restaurant was made to order for us! It was one of the first cuisines I came across that combined both Latin AND Indian influences. Since I am Hispanic and hubby is Indian, it felt like a match made in Heaven. In true hostess-style, Maneet sent just about every delicacy from her kitchen to our table. (By the way, Maneet is now a celebrity chef, author and TV personality).
Craving the yummy fish dishes from his native India, my hubby ordered the spiciest item on the menu! He handled it like a pro, but he did need to wipe the sweat off his forehead several times throughout the dinner. Did I mention that he has never struggled with his weight?
Have you ever eaten a food that was so spicy that you couldn’t handle more than a few bites? After you finished eating, were you still hungry?
Studies have shown that spicy food can help keep you fuller longer as well as increase metabolism. A recent study, for example, found that people ate 60 fewer calories (and burned about 10 more) when cayenne pepper was added to their tomato soup (compared with those who ate non-spiced soup). Read more from Women’s Health.
Instead of worrying about counting calories or eating salads all day long, maybe you should start turning up the heat to torch fat!
Below are 3 important foods that turn up the heat, and how they help you with decreasing appetite or increasing metabolism.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peppers contain an ingredient called capsaicin, which has been shown to kill off cancer cells, illicit anti-inflammatory effects, slash your risk for cardiovascular disease and help relieve pain. For those of you who struggle with the heat, simply remove the seeds and ribs, which contain the greatest amount of capsaicin.
Great examples of peppers that contain capsaicin are:
- Ghost peppers*
*Another fun dining story: A local restaurant called Marla’s offers a brilliant beef dish which features the ghost pepper. My father-in-law was intrepid enough to try this dish. He has been eating spicy food his entire life, so it was no big deal for him. Even with a full glass of water, I struggled with the small bite I tasted!
No worries if you have never explored spices in your own diet.
According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health under the Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award and by the McCormick Science Institute, people who did NOT consume red pepper regularly experienced a decrease of hunger, especially for fatty, salty and sweet foods. Read more at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110425173902.htm
Not all of us can handle eating raw jalapenos like my cousins in Michigan used to dare me to do. That’s ok. You can enjoy peppers raw, cooked, or even ground.
A small note of caution! Be careful when handling peppers, especially after you roast them. I once roasted a whole pan of serranos for a recipe, and de-skinned the peppers without gloves on. By mistake, I touched my eye and almost died from the burning sensation!
As a side note, roasting peppers decreases the heat and increases the sweet. While the serrano juice nearly took out my eye, the finished product was barely zinging my mouth.
A friend recently told me that while she does not indulge in wasabi, she LOVES a wasabi mayo that is sold at Trader Joe’s. Whether you leave your wasabi on the sushi plate or include it in your mayo, there are powerful reasons to include this spicy friend in your diet.
Health benefits of wasabi include a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as anti-inflammatory properties for joints and muscles. Wasabi also helps to defend against bacterial infections in the body and mouth, and can even reduce the irritating effects of seasonal allergies. This potent plant can be used to treat respiratory problems, and wasabi’s wealth of antioxidants helps to boost the immune system and can aid in removing harmful toxins from the body.
Even better, a little wasabi goes a long way! Make sure to buy yours from a local Asian foods store, so that you don’t end up with a fake version made of mustard, horseradish, or flavoring.
Cinnamon is super HOT, even if it doesn’t leave that burning feeling in your mouth! This spice has some awesome properties, and can be used in both savory AND sweet dishes. Have you ever tossed a dash a cinnamon in your favorite chili? It adds a complex level of flavor.
Plus, there are 3 ways that cinnamon can help you burn fat.
- Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels while simultaneously increasing insulin levels. Regulating blood sugar helps to reduce body fat.
- Cinnamon influences the manner in which sugar is metabolized by the body and prevents the transformation of the metabolized sugar into fat.
- Cinnamon also helps the body to process carbohydrates more efficiently AND abdominal fat is more sensitive to the effects of cinnamon than fat from other parts of the body.
As a Hispanic girl, I am no stranger to different spices that add flavor without adding fat. However, many people in the Midwest area have never ventured beyond salt, pepper, and maybe garlic. If that describes you, try using peppers, wasabi or cinnamon in your dish. Pin the spice infographic to build your pantry for even more flavor, or learn more health benefits at https://www.pinterest.com/jegoswam/nutrition/