10 Spicy (and Healthy) Recipes to Help You Lose Weight
by Toby Amidor, MS, RD
A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE looked at the relationship between hot chili pepper receptors in the stomach and the feeling of fullness in rats. Researchers found that chili peppers can activate a nerve in the stomach that tells the body it has had enough food. A great thing if you’re trying to lose weight! A high-fat diet, on the other hand, can interfere with these receptors which can lead to obesity. This study opens the door to exciting new research and new theories about chili peppers and weight loss.
But in the mean time, feel free to indulge in lots of spicy foods! Previous studies have also found that capsaicin, a natural compound found in chili peppers, can slightly increase your metabolism a few hours after eating. It’s just another great reason to add these 10 healthy, spicy recipes to your diet!
This recipe uses a grilled poblano pepper to jack up the heat. Mildly hot poblano peppers are common in Mexican fare. Once mature, they turn a dark-brown color that can be dried, and referred to as ancho. If smoked and dried, it is known as chipotle
Ingredients: 16 oz lean ground turkey (80% + lean) 2 oz habanero cheese, part skim 4 100% whole wheat burger buns 4 lettuce leaves 4 oz grilled pineapple 1 grilled poblano pepper
1. Fire up your grill and get your burgers assembled! 2. Separate ground turkey into 4 even rounds. 3. Divide each round into 2. Using ½ ounce shredded cheese, place the cheese in between each 2 ounces of ground turkey. Close patty halves onto one another, pushing the outside together to create an enclosed burger. 4. Heat on your BBQ grill until done (165*F.) 5. Cool completely and store for your mid-week burger craving or serve immediately topped with your grilled condiments.
Nutrition Information (per burger, without a bun) Calories: 300; Total Fat: 14 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 30 grams: Cholesterol: 113 milligrams
1 pound tomatillos 1 poblano pepper 1 jalapeño pepper 3 cloves garlic 1/2 cup cilantro 1/4 cup finely diced white onion 1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1. Peel and rinse the tomatillos. Cut them in half crosswise. Place a piece of tin foil on a baking sheet or inside a large skillet. Place the tomatillos cut side down on the foil. Set the pan over a medium high heat on the stove. Cook the tomatillos over medium heat until they soften and begin to take on a nice char – turning once or twice during the process, 7-8 minutes. Set aside. 2. If you have a gas cooktop or grill, turn the flame onto medium high heat and rest the jalapeño and poblano peppers over the flame until it blisters and blackens, using your tongs to turn and rotate several times until the entire pepper is blackened. (I rest the peppers directly on the iron grate over the flame, so the flames lap at the skin). If you don’t have a gas stovetop or grill, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place peppers on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes until softened and slightly blackened. 3. After peppers are cooked place them in a glass bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool. When peppers are cool enough to handle, slough off the charred skin with your fingers and discard (it should come away easily). 4. Cut off the stem of the peppers. With a knife, cut the peppers in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut the peppers into large chunks and place into a small mini-prep food processor. Add the tomatillos, garlic and cilantro. 5. Using the chop or pulse button on the mini-prep, process the mixture until it’s the consistency of a chunky salsa. Stir in the white onion. Season to taste with kosher salt and lime juice. 6. Serve with tortilla chips, burritos, tacos, grilled steaks, chicken, pork or fish.
In this stir fry, you control the heat. If you want it to be less hot then go for an Anaheim or poblano pepper. If you’re looking to turn up the spice, use a jalapeno or smaller-sized serrano chili (the smaller, the spicier!).
1 large carrot, chopped 1 cup cauliflower florets 1 cup sugar snap peas 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 teaspoon honey ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 cloves garlic, sliced 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 8 ounces shiitake or button mushrooms, sliced 1 chili pepper, chopped 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced 3 cups cooked boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips ¼ cup sliced scallions
1. Fill a medium pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the carrot and cauliflower. After 1 minute, add the sugar snaps. Let the vegetables cook 1 more minute and strain. Rinse with cold water and set aside. 2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, honey, and red-pepper flakes and set aside. 3. In a large skillet or wok, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, red bell pepper, chili pepper, and the blanched carrot, cauliflower, and sugar snaps. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Mix to evenly coat. Once everything is heated through, add the scallions and cook 1 more minute.
When slicing chili peppers, if your fingers come into contact with the ribs or seeds (the hottest part of the pepper) and then your eyes, you’ll feel the burn which may even turn to tears. To be safe, wear a pair of disposable gloves while handling chili peppers.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: About 50 (makes: 1 quart) Start to Finish: 13 minutes Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 8 minutes
5 medium to large green jalapeños, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1/3 cup water 1 garlic clove, smashed 1 bunch fresh dill blossoms, roughly chopped (optional)
1. Pack jalapeño slices tightly in a clean 1-quart glass jar (or 2, 1-pint jars) leaving about 1-inch of head room at the top. 2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, toast mustard seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. 3. Remove immediately from the heat once boiling. Carefully pour the mixture into your jar(s), making sure the jalapeños are completely submerged. Do not overfill; remember to leave at least 1/2-inch of head room. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature on the counter. Tightly seal, turn upside-down, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 1 week. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to eat or gift. These quick pickled jalapeños will be good for about 1 month, refrigerated.
This simple, delicious ceviche recipe takes 15 minutes to throw together. As fish is very perishable, do not store leftover for over 1-2 days after it is prepared. Also, make sure to be mindful of cross-contamination between the raw salmon and other fresh ingredients you may be using in your kitchen for other dishes.
Skill level: Beginner Serves: 6 Start to Finish: 15 minutes, plus refrigeration time Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 0 minutes
1 pound salmon, skin removed, cut into ½ inch pieces 1 cup diced seeded English cucumber 1 cup diced radish 1 cup chopped scallions 1 serrano chili, seeded and minced (add seeds based on desired level of spiciness) ¼ cup lime juice ½ cup lemon juice ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 1 cup chopped cilantro
1. In a large glass bowl, combine the salmon, cucumber, radish, scallions, and chili pepper. 2. In a measuring cup or small mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, ginger, and salt. Pour over fish mixture and toss well, making sure all the fish is covered with the juices. 3. Cover with saran wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Mix in the cilantro right before serving and serve chilled.
4 fresh poblano peppers 4 canned chipotle chiles 1 large can of tomatoes 1 clove of garlic, crushed 1 bunch of cilantro, washed and trimmed (around 1 cup) 1 cup chicken broth Juice of ½ lime ½ tablespoons ancho chile powder 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts Flour or masa (corn flour) to dredge 2 tablespoons butter Salt and pepper to taste
1. Get the peppers done first: Holding the poblanos over a gas flame or laying them on a hot barbecue, char the skin of each pepper until it blackens and blisters. When the skin is blistered and pepper is very hot, place each pepper into a paper bag or airtight container for 15-20 minutes. Remove peppers from the container and remove as much of the skin as you can, as well as the seeds and stem. 2. Throw the peeled, seeded peppers along with the chipotle chiles, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, chicken broth (no need to heat it), lime juice, and ancho chile powder into a food processor. Process until mostly smooth and set aside. 3. Moisten each chicken breast under a running tap (you might not need to do this if the chicken is already moist and the flour is sticking to it well) and dredge piece in flour or masa. 4. Using heavy frying pan over high heat, melt the butter and add the chicken to the hot pan. Brown the chicken well on each side. Turn the heat down to medium and pour the sauce over the chicken. Cook until the chicken is done, around 20 more minutes.
6 red jalapeno peppers, chopped (seed jalapeno if you prefer less spicy) 2 tablespoon tomato paste 4 garlic cloves 3-4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut amino 3 California dates (may need less if you seed jalapeno) Salt, to taste
1. Put everything in a food processor or a blender until it’s pureed. (Yields: 1 cup)
A member of the capsicum family, jalapenos range in heat from moderate to very hot. Choose fresh jalapenos that are firm and glossy without any bruising. Store in a perforated bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
½ cup reduced fat cream cheese, softened ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 8 large jalapeno peppers 8 slices pork or turkey bacon
1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium. 2. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and cheddar, mix to combine. 3. Using a paring knife, carefully cut off the top of each pepper and remove the ribs and seeds. Fill each pepper with some of the cream cheese mixture.* 4. Wrap each pepper with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. 5. Grill, turning occasionally until bacon is cooked, about 10 to 12 minutes. 6. Serve with dipping sauce such as Ranch dressing or Greek yogurt mixed with taco seasoning. *Chef’s tip: To make filling the peppers easier, place cream cheese mixture in a resealable bag and cut off one of the edges with scissors. Squeeze the mixture directly from the bag into the peppers.
Nutrition Information (per popper, without dipping sauce)
Get the benefits of chili peppers by chopping and adding to everyday favorites like chili, burger mixtures, and lasagna. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw chili peppers, as the residue can irritate your skin!
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 pound ground turkey 1 bell pepper or Poblano, diced 1 medium onion, diced 2 celery stalks, diced 1-2 finely chopped Serrano or Jalapeño peppers 2 cloves of garlic diced 2 (14½-ounce) cans petite cut diced tomatoes 1 (15½-ounce) can red kidney beans 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans 1 cup medium/hot salsa 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin ¾ teaspoon salt ½ cup shredded cheese ½ cup chopped scallions
1. Heat oil in large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until the turkey is browned, about 6 minutes. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. 2. Add the tomatoes, beans, salsa, chili powder, cumin, and salt, bring to a boil. 3. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended and the chili begins to thicken, about 1 hour. Serve with the cheese and scallions.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce
Not only does the latest research points to chili peppers as a weight loss aid, these babies are also pretty low in calories. One fresh green chili pepper provides 18 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein. It also provides close to double the recommended daily amount of vitamin C!
6 whole poblano peppers (if peppers are very large, use 3, split in half length wise) 1 sweet potato, 2 cups, small dice 1 corn on the cob, shucked, kernels cut 1 cup finely diced onion 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped 1 cup cooked black beans ¼ – ½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese, mozzarella, jack, goat cheese or feta (optional) 1 tablespoon Cumin 2 teaspoons coriander ½ teaspoon chile powder ½ teaspoon kosher salt ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
For Avocado Cilantro Sauce:
⅔ cup avocado ⅓ cup cilantro 2/3 cup water- plus more as needed ½ teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon coriander ⅛ cup lime juice 2 garlic cloves Cracked pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub the sweet potatoes, rinse and dice into very small cubes. The smaller the dice, the shorter the roasting time. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, place on a parchment lined baking sheet, along with the peppers and roast until golden and tender, about 20 minutes, turning peppers over, midway. 2. Make the Avocado Cilantro Sauce, placing all the ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth, adding a bit more water if needed to get the blade going. Set aside. 3. Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. 4. Remove peppers and yams from the oven, when yams are tender and golden. Place foil over the peppers for a few minutes so they can steam, to make removing the skins easier. Hold the peppers under cool running water and gently remove skins. It’s OK, if all the skins don’t release, just peel off what wants to come off. Carefully, with a sharp knife, slice off the top of the peppers and rinse the seeds out with running water. Set aside. 5. In a skillet heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over med high heat, add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to down medium low, add garlic and continue stirring until fragrant and golden, about 3-4 more minutes. Add corn. Sauté a couple minutes, then fold in cooked black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, spices, salt and pepper, sautéing until warmed through. Fold in cilantro. 6. If making both vegan version and cheesy version, divide filling, adding cheese to part as desired. Stuff the peppers. Place stuffed peppers in 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 5-10 minutes —or longer to melt the cheese in the filling. 7. Serve the stuffed peppers over a generous bed of Avocado sauce. Top with cilantro sprigs, crumbled queso fresco (optional). Enjoy!