Tweaklet #49 – Chilli

Do you like spicy food? Do you always reach for the chilli sauce or chopped chilli to go with your main meal? Or are you the opposite and shy away from anything spicy?

I love spicy food but I can’t handle spice that burns the back of my throat and makes me break out into a sweat. But according to new research, eating hot chillis could be the secret to a longer life!

Chillis, otherwise known as hot peppers, have been grown and used in food for thousands of years and like a lot of spices they have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

They’re also good for weight loss as they speed up your metabolism, stop cravings and are natural appetite suppressants.

The capsaicin found in spicy foods actually lowers cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol accumulation in the body. And chilli’s anti-inflammatory properties make it great for heart health generally.

So what’s your spice level? If you’re new to chilli ease in gradually or you’ll put yourself off and that would be a shame. Build up gradually and try some ground spices like paprika and cayenne and if you’re buying fresh peppers, do your research to find out just how hot each variety is. Remember some of the smallest in size can be the most fiery!

A little tip, from painful personal experience, is when you’re chopping up fresh chilli peppers remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and even then don’t go touching your eyes! Boy did I learn that one the hard way several times!

So, whilst we wait for further research on whether spicy food will help us live longer, let’s just get on and enjoy experimenting with adding some heat to our food. Time to spice up our lives Tweakleters!

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Tweaklet #37 – Fermented Foods

If you’ve been tuning into Tweaklets for a while, you know I often talk about gut health and what a difference a healthy gut makes to our overall health.

Well, today I have another good way to improve our digestion, boost our immunity and help with our weight, which is by eating fermented foods. Those familiar with the concept of fermented foods will cheer and those new too it will shudder. Food that’s been fermented?

I know I get it, I shuddered too!

Fermented foods contain a whole lot of good bacteria (otherwise known as probiotics)….. and research suggests that these mighty microbes help look after our gut.

Here are some fermented foods you can have fun making.

Sauerkraut… t’s not just something you have with German sausage, it’s been around for thousands of years. All it is, is cabbage and salt. Choose a good quality sea salt and add it to your cabbage and then massage the cabbage very well until breaks down and releases all its liquid. Then you simply put it in a well-sealed jar, put it in a dark place in the cupboard and leave for a couple of weeks. It’s delicious and versatile and so good for your gut!

If you like spicy food then try kim chi, the Korean equivalent of sauerkraut. There are many different recipes for this that range from simply adding chilli to a sauerkraut recipe, to the more authentic style that includes adding Asian radish, ginger, green onions, nori, and garlic.  It’s a really interesting process to watch and learn.

Other top fermented foods included Kefir – a fermented yoghurt drink….. Kombucha – a tangy fermented tea. …….Miso – a fermented paste made from barley, rice or soybeans which can be used as a soup or dressing………Tempeh, which is similar to tofu but fermented………and yoghurt.

Fermented food is all about boosting our gut and digestive function and that means better immunity and all-round better health!

So take a look at some recipes and see if one of them appeals to you. Just don’t do what I did and forget about some jars of sauerkraut I made, only to find them a VERY long time later in the back of the cupboard.

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Tweaklet #35 – Fish

I know cooking fish can be a bit divisive!

It can be slimy to handle. When it cooks it can be smelly. Do you buy fresh or frozen and how do you deal with a whole fish?

Don’t worry, I completely understand. I love eating fish and I know healthwise it’s really worthwhile, for all those fabulous omega threes that keep our hearts healthy and stave off cancer and inflammation, but I have to admit I am not the bravest when it comes to dealing with fish.

I’ve got a few tips though about choosing fish and about cooking it so that your hands and your home remain smell-free!

Fish types vary from region to region but a few things are true everywhere.
Firstly, buy from the best source possible as you want to avoid farmed fish.

Generally speaking, farmed fish does not have the same level of nutrients, can cause inflammation and they are often treated with antibiotics which we don’t want to be eating.

When it comes to buying frozen or fresh – fresh is great if you know that it really is fresh. A lot of fish is frozen on the boats these days so arguably frozen could mean fresher. Just do your best to still buy a local fish as a lot of frozen fish travels a very long way and can have been in the deep freeze for many months.

Now to the fun cooking part! If you have some reasonably firm fillets, like salmon or cod or whatever your local robust fish is, you can make a lovely almond crust and bake it in the oven, or wrap each one up in baking paper along with some Asian flavours of garlic and chilli and ginger and a little tamari and bake them in the oven.

Making a light curry is also great for flaky fish. Then for lighter more delicate fish you can dust the fillets with spices and simply pan fry them in a little olive oil or coconut oil.

Of course there are endless options for cooking fish and we’ll do more of that in the cooking series but for now, go on, be brave, and buy some fish!

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