Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spice and all things nice.

I love, love, love spicy food. My partner loves, loves, loves spicy food annnd so does our 21 month old daughter! (I know, bizarre, right? It must be the Spanish in her). Luckily for all of us spice lovers spicy foods are good to us in return, particularly on weight loss journeys. So, without further ado here is a list of several benefits to spicy food:

1. Spicy food boosts your metabolism. This is a fact and other studies have suggested that those that eat spicy food regularly tend to have smaller portions than those who do not. Furthermore capsaicin, a main ingredient in chillis, has a thermogenic effect causing the body to burn extra calories.

2. Improved digestion (whaaa?). Ok this one surprised me but studies have shown that spicy food can boost stomach secretions that aide in digestion.

3. It makes you sweat (ewww?). No, there is a very scientific type reason such as "Ahem, spicy food has been found to increase circulation thus is increasing the heart rate" which, in turn, makes one sweat. Those of you who have read 'First they killed my father' (Loung Ung, 2000) will know that this is a good thing as it helps keep people living in hotter countries cooler.

4. Those that eat spicy food the most often have a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. It is also known to prevent cancer and lower blood pressure.

5. Chillies and peppers increase serotonin (the "happy" hormone) levels.

So, that’s just some of the many benefits of spicy food. For those of you keen to vamp up your pasta sauces with the wondrous super food I am including my very own chilli pasta sauce recipe (loved by both my partner and daughter).


Pepper, 2 tsp.

Oregano, 1 tsp.
Sea salt, 1 tsp.
Chilli flakes, 1 (or 2, if you like) tsp.
Dried rosemary, 2 tsp.
3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
Paprika relish, 1 tbsp.
Vegetable or Chicken stock, 2 cups.
200g tinned tomato.
½ green capsicum, diced.
5 button mushrooms, sliced.
1 leek (or brown onion), sliced.
350g premium mince (omit for vegetarian).
½ carrot, diced.
1 tbsp light olive spread, to cook.  
Parmesan, to serve.
·         Sauté garlic, leek, button mushrooms until softened. Add the mince and continue to cook on a medium heat, stirring, until mince is browned.
·         Add the capsicum and carrot and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
·         Stir in the oregano, sea salt, chilli flakes, pepper and rosemary.
·         Add the tinned tomato, paprika relish and vegetable stock. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.
·         Serve over wholemeal or vegeroni pasta with topped with parmesan.
*serves 4-5 people.
*The flavour can be further enhanced by making your own tomato puree flavoured with herbs, if you wish to.
Happy eating!