download-5When it comes to beginners to peppers and cooking, most people would turn to jalapenos. This is because they aren’t exaggeratedly hot like the habanero nor is it dull like the bell pepper. If we talk about it in Scoville Heat Index standards, the habaneros are considered “crazy hot” while bell peppers are “not hot at all”. Meanwhile, the jalapeno is “just right”. You see, hot peppers have an active alkaloid compound called capsaicin that is responsible for giving the peppers their hotness. Yes, the more capsaicin, the hotter the pepper. The jalapeno has just the right amount of capsaicin to give the right intensity of hotness for cooking.

Jalapenos are usually in the market green but they turn red as they mature.

images-1What are the quick and easy ways to use jalapenos? For salads, soups, sandwiches and sauces, add small-diced roasted or raw jalapenos to boost the flavors and add a little spice. Of course, for grilled food, like barbecue and grilled chicken, whole, grilled jalapenos are the best partners. If you want to make your own hot sauce, you can add vinegar and garlic with jalapenos. Chipotles, which are actually smoke-dried jalapenos, can be used in any kind of sauce-filled dish for a little heat.

In handling jalapenos, be careful not to accidentally rub your eyes with your hands. You’ll cry without even cutting onions. Removing the seeds can also lessen the heat the jalapeno delivers. Also, before adding the pepper to the dish, first check its hotness so that you would know exactly how much jalapeno to add, because while jalapenos are categorized as “just right”, some are still hotter or weaker than others.

So, why use jalapenos, or peppers in general? That is because besides being pleasing to the taste buds. It is also inherently filled with health benefits.

Peppers are rich in vitamins A, C and K, especially red peppers. Vitamin A is good for the skin and eyes. Vitamin C is good for immunity and Vitamin K is good for the brain.

Red peppers are a good source of lycopene, a carotenoid. It can help decrease the risks of heart diseases.

Capsaicin is an anti-inflammatory agent, making it a good pain reliever. It also reduces the LDL-C a.k.a. bad cholesterol levels and increases circulation. Moreover, it can increase the body’s metabolic rate and decrease our appetite. It is also good for the stomach since it can increase its resistance to the ulcer-causing bacteria, H. pylori.

Start using peppers now. They do wonders to your food and health.

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