We Should Eat More Chili Peppers

A freelance writer contacted me to provide a few quotes for an article about chili peppers. This is a bit dangerous, as I can talk about chili peppers all day long. I’m positive this all won’t be used for the article, so I thought I would share the notes. In all, I believe we all need to eat more chili peppers.

We Should Eat More Chili Peppers

Chili peppers are often overlooked as a primary food choice, or improperly dismissed as being nothing more than a spicy addition to meals. The truth is, there is a massive variety of chili peppers in the world, ranging from the mildest bell peppers, which contain no spice, all the way up to the so-called “superhot chili peppers” that will knock your socks off with heat. Luckily, there is everything in between, meaning some chili pepper exists to please any level of palate.

For example, poblano peppers have been used for centuries as a simple stuffed pepper. Most people have heard of “Chiles Rellenos”, which literally translates to “Stuffed Chilies”, but typically refers to the classic Mexican dish of roasted poblano peppers stuffed with various cheeses. Poblanos have very little heat, but some people can detect the mild spiciness in them.

Arguably the most popular spicy pepper in the US is the jalapeno. Such a wonderful little pepper. You’ll find them all over today, served up stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon – the ubiquitous jalapeno popper. However, jalapenos are finding their ways into other restaurant dishes, no longer relegated to typical appetizer crowd pleasers. It is a sign of the times that hotter and hotter chili peppers are working their ways into the American palates.

Case in point – the habanero pepper. Habaneros are pretty darned hot, averaging around 300,000 Scoville Heat Units. A jalapeno is right about 5,000 SHU. We’re finding habanero flavorings used in snack foods all around, like chips and puffs, all sorts of munchies, but I can often ask in some restaurants to incorporate habaneros into my meal. The hot sauce industry is one to note here. Habanero sauces abound and account for the most popular of their wares, but as with any trend, the more you get, the more you want! With chili peppers, the more heat you get, the more heat you seek.

Enter the superhots. Habaneros once topped the chili pepper heat scales, but after that came the Bhut Jolokia, aka the Ghost Pepper. The Bhut Jolokia topped 1 Million SHU and took the public for an exciting ride which has only begun. Ghost Pepper sauces abound. They are so hot! Believe it or not, there are even hotter peppers, all the way up to the latest – Trinidad Scorpion Butch T at nearly 1.5 Million SHU to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion at over 2 Million SHU. Obviously these peppers are not for the faint of heart, but it just goes to show that where measurements can be taken, boundaries will be pushed, and there is a market for these superhots. I myself have grown them and worked them into many of my dishes.

All that said, to me, chili peppers are one of the most diverse foods available. Sure, there are different types of tomatoes, different types of potatoes, different types of garlic and huge varieties of other foods, but chili peppers offer so much more in terms of not only flavor but in wonderful spice and heat. It is an addictive heat that surely can grip you by the throat, but more often gently grasps the tongue and rattles your taste buds, throttling them to life. Once those taste buds wake up, they never want to go back to sleep again.

If you’re looking for more reasons to incorporate chili peppers into your diet, consider the health benefits. A typical chili pepper has more vitamin C than an orange. A single jalapeno has about 10% of your daily vitamin C needs. Chili peppers are known to help lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, burn fat and help lose weight, and combat Cancer. They can even warm your feet and improve your love life when used creatively. What other reasons do you need?

More on the Health Benefits of Chili Peppers.

Michael Hultquist

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About Mike from Madness

Mike Hultquist is a chili pepper and spicy food enthusiast with an insane desire to play in the kitchen. He's all about cooking with chili peppers, but also loves chili pepper gardening, preserving, and experimenting with new and creative ways to incorporate spicy food into life. He's also a produced screenwriter, novelist, food writer and web site developer.
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