Here at SBD, we’re almost as enamored with snacks as we are with sports. What’s the Super Bowl without the super-spread, after all?
This summer, the cayenne pepper is all the rage. It’s been claimed that these spicy nibbles can do everything from curing a stuffy nose to lowering blood sugar to boosting metabolism to stopping a heart attack!
Now, you might be thinking, is eating a boat-load of spicy food in the summer really the best idea? Isn’t it just going to make me hotter? Well, as any Indian can tell you, spicy food in hot weather will make you sweat, but sweating will ultimately cool you down, making summertime and cayenne peppers a match made in air-conditioned heaven.
We’re not suggesting you start popping cayenne peppers whole, of course, but we are suggesting you try these three cayenne-heavy recipes which all pair well with an evening at the ballpark (if you can sneak them past security!).
1. Spiced nuts:
Classic and portable, spiced nuts will be a hit no matter the audience, no matter the venue. From MyRecipes.com:
1. Mix almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, maple syrup, cayenne, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, savory, marjoram, and oil in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan. Sprinkle nuts with 1 teaspoon salt.
2. Bake in a 300° oven, stirring occasionally, until all liquid evaporates and nuts are golden under the skin (break open to test), about 45 minutes.
3. Let cool. Taste and add more salt if desired.
In addition to all the health benefits of the cayenne, you’re also getting the healthiest of healthy fats from the assorted nuts. You can easily omit the maple syrup if you’re worried about your sugar intake.
- Drink pairing suggestion: Horchata.
2. Bulgur wheat balls:
A healthy alternative to meatballs, bulgur wheat balls spiced with cayenne, cumin, and turmeric are low-fat and high-fiber. This recipe from the BBC is fantastic, but halve the olive oil to keep them low-fat. Here’s the prep:
[1.] Cook the bulgur wheat for a little longer than the packet instructions say, so it’s very puffy. Rinse under cold water to remove the starch and leave to drain until cool enough to handle.
[2.] Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
[3.] Mix all the ingredients, except the oil, for the bulgur wheat balls together. Squeeze the mixture using your hands so it sticks together. Shape the mixture into golf-ball sized balls.
[4.] Heat a large frying pan and add the oil, once hot add the balls and fry or 3-4 minutes. Finish them in the oven if you like.
[5.] Serve on sticks with a drizzle of Greek style yoghurt, sweet tamarind sauce, a sprinkle of nigella seeds and more fresh coriander.
- Drink pairing suggestion: Kefir (to keep things Middle Eastern).
3. Cayenne-rubbed chicken:
Every non-vegetarian who’s trying to eat healthy consumes their share of chicken. The high-protein, low-fat staple can get a bit tiresome, but incorporating cayenne into your next BBQ session can breathe life back into your erstwhile favorite. The original home-maker extraordinaire, Martha Stewart, has a simple yet delicious recipe for cayenne-rubbed chicken. (Skip the salsa, though, instead saving the avocados for our drink suggestion, below.) Preparation:
In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.
- Drink pairing suggestion: Kale, avocado, and banana smoothie.
4. Kale and cayenne smoothie:
Like the sound of that smoothie but not in the mood for chicken? Well good news! Tossing the cayenne in with the kale will give your smoothie a nice kick and also up its metabolism-boosting qualities. AllRecipes has your one-step instructions:
1. Put coconut water, banana, avocado, kale, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper in blender; blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Food pairing suggestion: Salmon sashimi on a bed of black rice.
5. Cayenne pepper tea:
Lastly, we’ll leave you with a quick-and-easy recipe for lemon-ginger-cayenne pepper tea from Food.com.
- Boil water.
- Peel and chop ginger into fine pieces.
- Add lemon, honey, cayenne and ginger to a mug.
- Top with boiling water and let steep for five to ten minutes, until the ginger is strong and aromatic.
- Stir well and enjoy while flipping through your favourite magazine.
While this tea won’t sate your summer hunger pangs, it will keep you warm when the thermostat dips after dinner, and it will aid both your digestion and circulation. It may also help lower your blood pressure.
- Food pairing suggestion: Reduced-sugar angel food cake.
Have a cayenne recipe you think is perfect for summer? Let us know in the comments. Until then, happy snacking, hungry sports fans!
(Photo credit: Daniel Risacher (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)