Home & Jalapeños

Landed back on Melbourne ground this week! It’s so nice to:

a) be driving on the right side of the road again

b) be able to get a good coffee

c) not have to worry about adding sales tax + tips where ever i go

I love travelling, but I am always, always happy to come home to Melbourne.

I’m feeling a little out of my element in terms of blog writing at the moment (a mixture of jet lag and me not posting for a while I guess), so bear with me!

I ate a lot of good food in America. Actually, I just a lot of food in general (the vast majority of it going into the ‘holiday only’ category of the food pyramid). I could write about my hunt for the perfect bagel…my handmade donut…my cheese feast at Reading Terminal Market… but I think there was one common element to all of my memorable food experiences in the US; the jalapeño chilli (or pepper in the US). Yeah, I know, it surprised me at first. But then I thought about it, and it was, in some form or another, on my favourite pizza, my favourite drink, and my favourite grilled cheese, who would have thought!?

jalapeno

Chilli is a tough one when it comes to cooking for other people and individual preference, what is ‘mild’ for some could be unbearable for others. My tolerance is slowly increasing, and I think I can handle the heat pretty well! The compound in chilli that gives it it’s heat is known as capsaicin. It acts as an irritant to our body’s tissues which is what we feel as a heat and burning sensation. Interestingly, drinking a glass of water when you’ve eaten something too hot can make the sensation worse, as it spreads the irritant around more! Better to have a glass of milk or some yoghurt on hand.

Capsaicin has been gaining a bit of attention lately in it’s role as a weight loss therapy. It’s mechanism of action is thought to be related to it’s effect on dietary thermogenesis, which is basically the energy that the body requires in order to ‘burn off’ the food we eat, it usually contributes to about 10-15% of our overall energy expenditure for the day. This, in conjunction with it’s very minimal contribution to energy intake (only 4 calories in one jalapeño), has led to the idea that it can be a useful addition to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. Small but significant effects have been found supporting the idea that capsaicin may play a role in decreasing appetite and also fat oxidation. For those who struggle with the heat of chilli, this literature review suggests trying the CH-19 sweet pepper, which contains the capsaicin but none of the heat. From a quick google search it looks like it is quite rare to find in its whole food form, so supplements appear to be more readily available.

Aside from it’s potential merits as a weight loss tool, chillies and capsicums are a great source of vitamin A and C and are full of antioxidants (try and go for fresh rather than in a jar). If you are a bit hesitant to go straight for the jalapeño, try the larger green or red chillies first, and take out the white membrane and the seeds before you eat them to reduce some of the heat.

Will post a recipe soon..after i recover form my jet lag and Christmas lunch food coma. X

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