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!?


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


Winter Blues

Mornings are my favourite time of the day. First one up, nice and peaceful, the kitchen all to my self. I have a feeling I was up so early because of my stupid cold making breathing a challenge :/ The weather has been awful this week, and I thought my immune system could do with some extra vitamin C, so I decided to make one of my favourite winter recipes. Vegetarian chilli.   Most people think oranges are the best source of vitamin c, but alas! They are no where near as good as capsicums. One cup of diced red capsicum contains more than three times the amount of vitamin c that we need for the day :O (RDI for females = 30mg). Other sources high in vitamin C include chillies, guavas, and kiwi fruit.

I stopped using a recipe a while back because I got lazy, so it changes a little every time but always tastes good. My last batch was my best because I finally managed to find chipotle chilies, which made a big difference – so well worth it if you can be bothered sourcing them. (I found mine at a fancy foodie store in Footscray).

Recipe as follows (for now)

2 x tbs olive oil

1x large onion

3 x cloves garlic

1 x tsp each of cumin, cinnamon and smoked paprika

1 x chipotle chilli in adobe sauce

1 x tin of crushed tomatoes

2 x tins kidney beans (or 1 cup dried)

1 x red capsicum

1 x green capsicum

1 x tbs good quality cocoa

1 x large sweet potato

coriander to finish

pre-heat oven to 200

coat the sweet potato in olive oil, cumin and a bit of sea salt pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until it looks nice and golden

mean while sauté the onion in oil till soft add the spices and garlic and cook for a minute but watch they don’t burn

add the tin of tomatoes, chilli and 2 tins of water and the rest of the ingredients then throw in the cocoa and give it a good stir

cook slowly for about 45 minutes when it’s reduced a bit then you’re good to go!

Top with roasted sweet potato and garnish with coriander I like to serve mine with brown rice too


A side note to burst our bubbles à it’s actually a bit of a myth that vitamin c can boost your immune system when you’re sick. Sorry guys! No conclusive links have been found between the two. Some research has shown that vitamin c may reduce the duration of a cold slightly, but once you’re infected it’s too late! But by all means, go ahead and try anyway, can’t hurt to load up on oranges, capsicums and garlic! Maybe there will be a placebo effect and you will trick yourself into feeling better 😉