The heat is on. These spicy foods are for people who live for the burn and crave it in every meal--the most fiery of snacks and recipes to keep you warm and full during the chilly winter months.
Looking to add a little bit of spice for your diet but coming up a bit spiceless? Well, look no further because we at Natura Market have got your back when it comes to spicy foods because we, ourselves (albeit a few), are spicy food lovers! Now some of you–referring to the few who would opt out of spicy foods–would ask; “why are you doing this to yourself?” when some spicy foods have got us in tears, sweating buckets, but the chemistry because spicy foods and why we keep coming back to it is a little bit funny!
While some spicy food lovers just enjoy the thrill, the challenge of that daunting question; “can you handle the heat?” Research shows that consuming spicy foods actually allows your body to release endorphins, which is known as the “happy” chemical that naturally produces when we’re, well, feeling great!
For a better example, think of the phenomenon of a “runner’s high”, it’s the same release of endorphins when you’ve gone for a run and hit your stride. Your heart's pumping, you’re catching your breath, but you’re feeling this burst of relaxing euphoria, this response is the same when it comes to spicy foods! Not only is there an exciting boost of endorphins when we enjoy spicy foods, the compound most commonly found in spicy foods known as capsaicin can also benefit your body in a few surprising ways! A few studies show that foods like spices and peppers that contain this compound can aid in improving your gut microbiome, boost your metabolism, and even lower blood pressure! There’s so many different reasons to love spicy foods and spice in general, and here’s a list of healthier foods and condiments that you can keep on your spice radar while still being able to stick with your diet!
Hot Sauces and Condiments
What completes a meal better than some hot sauce? In most grocery stores, there are aisles fully dedicated to hot sauces and condiments, so when it comes to a food guide for spicy food lovers, of course it wouldn’t be complete without hot sauce (just like your meal)! Want a spicy kick to your sushi? Try authentic, plant-based Japanese hot barbeque sauce to dip or drizzle onto your sushi or tempura! Looking for something sweet and hot? Hot honey may be your jam! Craving something creamy and heat-y for your wings and fries for game night? Creamy, vegan buffalo sauce made with jalapenos may be up your alley! Looking to give someone (or yourself) the gift of spice to warm them up until Spring comes around? Try out Truff's gluten-free pinnacle of heat trio! Or to give your dish the best of umami flavours with that same kick of spice, Fly By Jing's vegan zhong sauce is a mouth-watering chili oil that can be topped on any dish! Or, for those who want a challenge, try Fly By Jing's keto Xtra spicy chili crisp that has three times the heat and is just as rich in umami flavours! We can probably dedicate this whole article just to hot sauces and condiments, there are just too many great, and not to mention Fly By Jing Xtra Spicy Chili Crisp, 170g healthier alternatives that can be named to elevate your dish to the next spicy level, all while still being able to stay with your diet!
Hot Chips & Snacks
There are few things that some of us exist for, and for some of us, one of those things are spicy snacks. There’s nothing better than finding snacks that have that level of heat you’re looking for while still being friendly for your diet, and here at Natura Market, we’re all about healthy eating and healthier alternatives! No more scrounging up and down the grocery aisles for your spicy snacks, you can find all the snacks that you’re looking for to get that kick of spice, while still maintaining your lifestyle. On a gluten-free diet and looking for something cheesy with your spice? Check out Whisps hot & spicy cheddar crisps! Looking for something keto and you’re a fan of nuts? Catalina Crunch has got your back with their spicy kick crunch mix! Looking for something vegan and love yourself some plantains? Barnana’s spicy mango salsa-ridged plantain chips may be the answer to your call! Having a nacho night with some friends? Tajin’s cantina-style tortilla chips are a perfect blend of spice and lime to serve with some salsa and spicy guac for a fiery, trivia night! The spicy snacks don’t have to be limited to just chips and nuts though, if you’re wanting a boost of protein and you want to chomp into some meat without prepping a whole meal, Beretta’s spicy beef sticks are sure to knock your socks off with its spice, or if you’re a fan of the sea, NORA’s plant-based tempura seaweed snacks are the perfect thing to munch on or to pair with your sushi and sushi bowls! There are so many different spicy snacks that you can enjoy that are healthier and aligned with your diet, and with our food and snack guide, we hope that we’ve taken just a little bit of the stress when it comes down to a spicy snack hunt down the grocery aisles!
Have the time to make your own spicy creation? Try a few of these recipes!
Okay, so maybe you’ve got your hot sauces and you’ve got your spicy snacks but want to know what dishes you can make that have the spice levels to the max, well, here are three tried and true, and not to mention easy to make spicy recipes that you can make at home!
This is an easy recipe that you can whip up with simple ingredients in the morning! All you would need is eggs, salt, oil or cooking spray, and a spicy condiment to drizzle on top of your choice (any chili oil, or hot sauce works!). Heat up your oil and scramble those eggs with salt and any other seasonings you see fit, and serve on a plate with some chili oil or hot sauce on top and you got yourself some spicy scrambled eggs in a matter of minutes! You can also serve this with a bagel, spread some cream cheese with tomato and bacon for a makeshift BLT to make your spicy breakfast complete!
With just 15 minutes, you can make yourself a super spicy lunch to sweat through! All you would need for this one is some shredded chicken; leftover chicken works for this too if you’re trying to get rid of some leftovers, tortillas, tomato paste, hot sauce; you can mix it with the shredded chicken, or add on top, it’s up to you, cream cheese and mozzarella–both are optional, you can swap it out with this creamy buffalo sauce if you don’t eat cheese–, avocado, cilantro, zucchini (grilled), and jalapenos!
Mix up the chicken, tomato paste, hot sauce, mozzarella and cream cheese or the creamy buffalo sauce, avocado and zucchini.
Prep your tortillas with the shredded chicken mix and add the cilantro, jalapenos, and more hot sauce, if you like, and fold up. You can skewer a toothpick through the wraps so that it stays folded.
Toast them on a pan on medium heat for a few minutes and then serve.
Make sure to take the toothpick out first if you use it to keep the wrap’s shape.
Now we touched on this classic, soul comforting dish in the last article for our lazy cooker’s guide, but we definitely need to touch on this dish again in our spicy lover’s guide because like many other dishes, mac n cheese only gets more elevated when you add in a little bit of spice! While some dedicated cooks out there make and bake mac n cheese from scratch, we want to keep things easy and spicy over here, so for this recipe, go ahead and whip out your favourite plant-based mac n cheese, and get to work on cooking up your mac! This recipe really only requires the spicy add-ons after you boil your mac and add in the cheese (or vegan cheese) packet. You can add spices like paprika, cayenne, chili flakes, pepper, when you’re putting in the cheese packet for your mac, and you can also drizzle on some hot sauce for an extra kick of spice! If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, you can also add steamed veggies to this dish to have yourself a spicy, vegan mac n cheese casserole!
Name an easier dish than instant ramen! Now with the ever-increasing need of both healthier alternatives and quick and convenient cooking, instant ramen has become one of the most sought-after dishes to enjoy when you’re crunched on time and need something easy to make, but who’s to say you need to sacrifice spice when it comes to your ramen? While some ramen out there already have that extra kick of spice, you can definitely elevate this dish by adding in your own hot sauce or chili oil! You can also toss in some veggies like garlic, sliced cabbage, beansprouts, baby spinach and scallions while you’re cooking up your noodles! There’s also tons of other ways to modify this dish, but if you’re wanting to kick up the heat, throw in a thai chili or chili flakes into the mix, and when you’ve served up your bowl of ramen, add in your hot sauce and we’re sure you’ll be melting in your seat with happiness from the spice!
And there you have it! A whole arsenal of foods and recipes to try so you can spice up your life! And for those who can’t handle spice too well, you don’t have to miss out on the spice journey, everyone’s journey, like diets, all differ, and if you want to try testing your tolerance to spice, start small to see if you like it! The recipes mentioned above also work great even without the added hot sauces, spices, so feel free to omit, or make it your own way, and for those of you who adore spice, we hope that you’ll be able to find a favorite among these recipes and food options and that they’ve got you loving spicy foods all over again!