Did you know there are around 3000 different cultivated varieties of chili peppers? Not surprising, considering there are just as many dishes to enjoy them in and they all have unique flavor profiles.
Amid all this variety, there still seems to be only two kinds of people in this world: those who dig chili, and those who do not. Because their health benefits are far-reaching, we’ve recently been trying to use more recipes that call for chili. Here’s what we’ve found:
- Jalapeños and Anaheim peppers are delicious in tacos and a hearty chili stew. If you can handle the spice, throw Serrano peppers in there instead!
- The fiery little red chilies (called Bird’s Eye chili or Thai chili) are perfect for any dish with an Asian flair, be it Thai Curry, Vietnamese Pho, a Chinese Summer Salad, or a simple stir fry.
- Cold and flu season calls for immune-boosting drinks, and this year we’ve been loving Fire Cider (recipe below!).
- A dash of cayenne seasoning can be added to almost everything. Just a pinch of this potent spice won’t mess with the flavor of your dish, but will give your body access to the amazing health benefits that cayenne (and all chilies) have to offer.
Which brings us to our next point. As far as the healing properties of chili, well… the list is an impressively long one. Some of the more noteworthy benefits include:
- When enjoyed raw, chili peppers are one of the best plant-based sources of Vitamin C (better than oranges by a long shot). The greener the pepper, the more Vitamin C it carries.
- All chillies are chalk full of capsaicin, an active compound that inhibits inflammatory processes throughout the body. Whether it’s dry, itchy skin during the winter or year-round arthritis, upping your chili intake will help you lower all types of inflammation.
- Fighting a cold? Chillies are wonderfully decongestant and create a powerful elixir when battling sickness. They help clear the overproduction of mucous membranes and give your immune system a much-needed boost. Try adding a few fresh chilies to your chicken or vegetable soup.
As if all that wasn’t enough, chillies are packed with a healing array of vitamins & minerals, they are highly antioxidant, and regular consumption of this spicy herb has been show to reduce cholesterol while simultaneously increasing your metabolic rate (good news for those battling diabetes).
If you don’t like the heat, substitute bell peppers into your recipes. While their vitamin C content and anti-inflammatory properties aren’t as high as their spicier cousins, bell peppers still contain all the same healing properties. There are literally thousands of mild, even sweet, peppers out there! Check out this list if you’re interested in learning more.
And now: the zingy Fire Cider!
Fire Cider is a popular herbal folk remedy. The tasty combination of vinegar infused with spicy circulatory movers makes this recipe especially pleasant and easy to incorporate into your daily diet to help boost natural health processes, stimulate digestion, and get you nice and warmed up on cold days.
Fire Cider can be taken straight by the spoonful, splashed in fried rice, or drizzled on a salad with good olive oil. You can also save the strained pulp and mix it with shredded veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and fresh herbs to make delicious and aromatic stir-fries and spring rolls. Take 1 tbsp each morning to help warm up, or 3 tbsp if you feel the sniffles coming on.
- 1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root
- 1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root
- 1 medium organic onion, chopped
- 10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed or chopped
- 2 organic jalapeño peppers, chopped
- Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon
- Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary or 2 tbsp of dried rosemary leaves
- 1 tbsp organic turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder
- organic apple cider vinegar
- raw local honey to taste
Prepare all of your roots, fruits, and herbs and place them in a quart-sized jar. If you’ve never grated fresh horseradish, be prepared for a powerful sinus opening experience! Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or a plastic lid if you have one. Shake well. Store in a dark, cool place for a month and remember to shake daily.
After one month, strain out the pulp and pouring the Fire Cider into a clean jar or container. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquidy goodness as you can from the pulp while straining. Next comes the honey. Add 1/4 cup of honey and stir until smooth. Taste your cider and add up to another 1/4 cup until you reach the desired sweetness. Enjoy!
Have you always wanted to add more healing herbs to your cooking? Or maybe you’re new to cooking and would like to learn more about healthy, nourishing ingredients? No matter the level of culinary prowess, our Herbs that Heal series will guide beginners and experts alike through one new herb a month. You can use these herbs to enhance your enjoyment of both cooking and eating!