Imagine shedding those extra, stubborn pounds just by spicing up your everyday meals! Sounds too good to be true? A 2022 study found that capsaicin, the active component in Jalapeño Peppers, can actually help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism. Capsaicin is a potent compound that not only gives Jalapeños their signature heat but also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Even if you are not interested in the waist-slimming benefits of Jalapeños, you have to appreciate the complex blend of flavors. With a Scoville rating ranging from 2,500 to 8,000, they offer a moderate level of heat which is perfect for those who have a low spice tolerance or have problem handling spicy food. And the deep red hue of these peppers is as inviting as their taste.
So, in this post today, we are going to shed some light on this hot pepper, where it comes from, and most importantly – how to use it to elevate your dishes!
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From Aztec Kitchens to NASA Missions
The story of the Jalapeño Pepper is deeply rooted in the soils of Mexico, specifically in the region around Xalapa, which is the capital city of the state of Veracruz. The name “Jalapeño” is actually derived from “Xalapeño,” which means “from Xalapa.”
These peppers have been a big part of Mexican cuisine and culture for centuries, dating back to the Aztecs. That’s right, the Aztecs were among the first to domesticate this wild pepper. Back then, they used to smoke it in order to preserve it for extended periods; it’s a unique technique that is still used today for making chipotle peppers.
They also believed that eating Jalapeño Peppers could ward off evil spirits. The scientific community might raise an eyebrow at this, but some locals in rural Mexico still swear by it.
Interestingly, Jalapeños have even been to space. NASA chose Jalapeños – among a few other fruits and vegetables – for space missions because they can be grown in a controlled environment and offer a burst of flavor to otherwise bland space food. If you have ever wanted to try a pepper that is out of this world, well, there you go.
It’s natural to wonder how exactly this Mexican native became such a global sensation.
The Spanish explorers are to be thanked for that. In the 16th century, they were so impressed by its exceptional flavor profile that the explorers took it back to Europe. From there, it spread across continents and made its way into a wide range of cuisines. Today, you will find Jalapeños, both red and green, in dishes from all over the world, be it India’s spicy curries, Thailand’s hot sauces, America’s sizzling BBQs, or Italy’s zesty pasta dishes. If you love to eat spicy food, you can’t escape Jalapeños!
But these peppers are more than just a kitchen staple. They have become a symbol of cultural identity for many Mexican communities. Festivals like the annual Jalapeño Festival in Laredo, Texas, celebrate this pepper’s impact on local culture, food, and even music.
The Science Behind Jalapeños Spiciness and the Role of Capsaicin
For those less interested in the folklore and more in the science of hot food and mildly spicy food, the reason why Jalapeños pack such a punch is because of something called capsaicin.
Capsaicin is a chemical compound found in the white pithy part inside the pepper. It is what makes you feel that burning sensation when you bite into a Jalapeño. But it’s not just there to make you sweat; it has a purpose. In the wild, capsaicin helps the pepper plant fend off fungi and pests.
When you eat a Jalapeño, the capsaicin in the pepper interacts with pain receptors in your mouth, specifically the TRPV1 receptors. Think of these receptors as little alarm bells. These bells usually ring when the temperature gets too hot, signaling to your brain that you are in contact with something like, say, boiling water.
When you eat spicy foods, capsaicin in the peppers tricks these receptors into thinking they are dealing with heat, even though there is no actual temperature change. That’s where that tongue-tingling or burning feeling comes from.
Once these receptors are activated, they send a message to your brain that you have come in contact with something spicy. Your brain responds by releasing endorphins, which are natural painkillers. If you have ever wondered why you feel that sense of euphoria or a “high” after eating spicy food, this is why. It’s your body’s way of trying to counteract the perceived “pain” from the spiciness.
Then as your digestive tract processes the Jalapeño, the capsaicin gets absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, it can boost your metabolic rate by amping up your internal body temperature. This process is known as thermogenesis. When your body works to cool itself down, it burns more calories, which is why capsaicin is often linked to weight loss.
Remember we mentioned earlier that capsaicin also has anti-inflammatory properties? That’s because it inhibits a substance in your body called Substance P, which is involved in sending pain signals. By blocking this, capsaicin can help get rid of the pain to some degree, especially when the pain is caused due to inflammation, like in the case of arthritis or muscle soreness.
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7 Ways to Use Jalapeños Red Peppers in Cooking
Now that we have convinced you how good Jalapeños are for you (we did, right?), we can’t NOT talk about how to use them in your meals. No matter what cuisine you are into, these spicy peppers can spice up just about any dish. So go ahead, and give one or all of these ideas a try. Your taste buds will thank you.
Jalapeño Popcorn Spice
Next movie night, skip the regular butter and salt. Instead, sprinkle some Jalapeño powder over your popcorn. It adds a flaming kick that will be hard to resist. You can make your own Jalapeño spice powder at home or buy high-quality red Jalapeño Pepper powder from Magic Plant Farms.
Pop your popcorn kernels. While they are still hot, drizzle some melted butter over them and generously sprinkle red Jalapeño Pepper powder. Give it a good shake to distribute the spice evenly.
Jalapeños pair very well with the creaminess of the avocado. For those tired of the same old non-spicy recipe, try this one: mash 3 ripe avocados in a bowl. Add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of red Jalapeño puree (adjust to your preferred level of spiciness), a handful of chopped cilantro, the juice of one lime, and salt to taste. Mix well.
Cornbread is a classic comfort food, and here’s a twist to make it even more exciting with the bold flavor of red Jalapeño flakes.
To start, preheat your oven to the temperature specified on your cornbread mix package. In a mixing bowl, combine one cup of your favorite cornbread mix with one to two tablespoons of red Jalapeño flakes, adjusting the quantity to your desired level of spiciness. Follow the instructions on your cornbread mix package for the necessary amount of water, gradually adding it to the dry mix while stirring until you achieve a smooth batter. Next, pour the Jalapeño-flavored cornbread batter into a greased baking pan or muffin tin, as indicated by your mix’s instructions.
Bake the cornbread in the preheated oven until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once done, let the cornbread cool slightly before serving. The red Jalapeño flakes will infuse your cornbread with a mouthwatering spiciness that elevates this classic dish.
Jalapeño BBQ Sauce
Barbecue lovers should definitely try this mild hot sauce; it’s perfect for grilling. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of any barbecue sauce you like, 2 tablespoons of red Jalapeño mash, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Simmer until flavors meld.
Jalapeño (Snake Bite) Margarita
Impress your guests with a refreshing, peppery Snake Bite Margarita! It’s not as complicated as it sounds. You just need to make a simple syrup with red Jalapeño Pepper powder and add it to your margarita recipe.
To make the syrup, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of red Jalapeño Pepper powder and simmer it in a pot (over low heat) with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water until the sugar dissolves. To make the margarita, use any pre-made margarita mix or make it from scratch by combining the tequila, lime juice, and the Jalapeño syrup in a shaker. Don’t forget to add some ice cubes to the shaker and shake well until the mixture is chilled.
Finally, run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass, dip it into salt, add ice cubes, and strain the mixture into it.
Jalapeño-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Craving some spicy food but want to keep it healthy? Mix cream cheese and Jalapeño puree in a bowl. Cut a slit in a chicken breast and stuff it with the mixture you just made. Seal the slit with toothpicks and bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes.
Jalapeño Chocolate Brownies
Before you dismiss this one, know that the rich, gooey chocolate pairs incredibly well with the subtle heat from the Jalapeños.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the desired amount of red Jalapeño Pepper powder for your preferred level of spiciness. Set it aside. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter and 1 cup sugar. Stir well. Add 2 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mix, stirring until just combined. Then add 1 cup of chocolate chips for that even more chocolatey goodness. Pour the batter into the baking pan, spreading it evenly.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan before cutting them into squares.
If you are using a brownie mix, add the desired amount of red Jalapeño Pepper powder when the instructions on the mix ask you to add any liquid ingredients like water, oil, or eggs.
Note: If the spice upsets your stomach, drink milk or eat something sweet to counteract it.
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Browse our range of red Jalapeño products and place your order today!