Happy International Hot and Spicy Food Day, a day to turn up the heat (on the plate AND the thermostat!) and celebrate all things spicy. We love spices because they add tons of flavor to meals without all the calories, and many hot foods like garlic, chili peppers, and onions have antimicrobial properties and kill potentially harmful bacteria in your food. Best of all, a lot of herbs and spices provide valuable health benefits: many have disease-fighting antioxidants and can be used as natural remedies for things like congestion, pain, and nausea.
The heat in spicy foods comes from a compound called capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers that produces a burning sensation upon contact. It is most concentrated in the seeds of the peppers, so removing them before cooking is the most effective way to reduce the heat of a dish. Dairy products help to neutralize the effects of capsaicin, so a glass of milk, not water, is the best remedy for a burning mouth! It’s also the reason that foods like buffalo wings are often served with a dairy-based dipping sauce.
What’s your favorite hot and spicy food?