Most of us are familiar with the terms "crushed red pepper" or "red pepper flakes." It's not so much a chile as a style. A jar filled with red flakes intermingling with yellow seeds is front and center in most spice cabinet. This is the plant that puts fire on your tongue and maybe even a tear in your eye when you eat spicy Mexican, simmering Szechuan, smoldering Indian, or torrid Thai food.
Chili peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, Capsaicin is being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. Red chili peppers, such as cayenne, have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation.
The next time you make healthy sautéed vegetables, add some chili peppers to turn up the spice volume.
Add chili peppers to your favorite corn bread recipe to give it an extra spark.
Add minced chili peppers to yogurt and use as a condiment or dip.
Add jalapenos to your favorite tuna salad recipe.
Purée fresh chili peppers together with olive oil, garlic, coriander, peppermint, and caraway. If you would like, add your own favorite herbs and spices to this mixture to make your own version of Harissa, a condiment popular in the some Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Keep a container of cayenne pepper on the table right next to the pepper mill, so you and your family can add a pinch of extra spice to any of your meals.
Cayenne pepper and lemon juice make great complements to cooked bitter greens such as collards, kale and mustard greens.