Loving the BITE: Homemade Green Chili Sauce
I grew up in the mountains of Southern Colorado, within 50 miles of the New Mexico border. There are many things I loved about my childhood, and one of them is the smell of New Mexico Green Chilies. I can still smell the aroma of chilies roasted at farmers markets and fairs, and peeled in my grandmother’s kitchen. This week, we’ll skip the canned green chili sauce and use an authentic recipe that will bring your enchiladas, burritos, and huevos rancheros to life. And, you’re in luck, because delicious New Mexico Green Chilies have a lot to offer cyclists in terms of cardiovascular health, immune function, metabolism, and wellness.
Recipe of the week: Homemade Green Chili Sauce
- 1 ½ tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ onion, chopped finely
- 13 oz. frozen chopped green chilies, or freshly roasted, peeled, and chopped green chilies
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp water
- Heat oil over low heat in saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic about 4 min.
- Stir in green chili, water, salt; bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 12 minutes.
- Add cumin and black pepper to taste.
- Mix 2 tbsp water with 2 Tbsp flour. Stir continually; add to sauce until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes.
I could add green chilies, and green chili sauce for that matter, to just about anything. Burgers. Pizza. Eggs. Of course, Mexican food. Beanitos, anyone? Okay, for once, maybe not a smoothie. But still, the more you add this wonderful food, the more you’ll get great cardiovascular, immune function, metabolism and whole-body benefits. Like red chili peppers, New Mexico or Anaheim Green Chilies give us:
These are the nice little components of peppers that make them HOT. They are also a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes. The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hotter the pepper, the more anti-inflammatory it is. Capsaicin is actually being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy.
And what’s more, capsaicins have anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties to boot.
Chili Peppers have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Cultures where hot pepper is used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
As a food full of antioxidants, chili peppers may also protect the fats in your blood from damage by free radicals—a first step in the development of atherosclerosis. In a randomized, crossover study involving 27 healthy subjects (14 women, 13 men), eating freshly chopped chili was found to increase the resistance of blood fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, to oxidation (free radical injury). In addition, after eating the chili-spiced diet, women had a longer lag time before any damage to cholesterol was seen compared to the lag time seen after eating the bland diet. In men, the chili-diet also lowered resting heart rate and increased the amount of blood reaching the heart.
Anyone who’s eaten too much spice at once (usually in a public setting, right?) knows it makes your nose run. The peppery heat stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed up nose or congested lungs.
An Immune Boost:
The combo of Vitamin A and Vitamin C in red and green chili peppers provides an immune boost for the body. Vitamin A is often called the anti-infection vitamin, and it is essential for healthy mucous membranes, which line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract and serve as the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens. Vitamin C is thought to improve our defenses against colds and shorten the duration of colds once we have them. Good, healthy lungs and nasal passages are crucial to a cyclist, so add the heat!
Chili peppers have a bad–and mistaken–reputation for contributing to stomach ulcers. Not only do they not cause ulcers, they can help prevent them by killing bacteria you may have ingested, while stimulating the cells lining the stomach to secrete protective buffering juices.
Reduced risk of Diabetes and High Blood Sugars:
In a study published in the July 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Australian researchers show that the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar after a meal is reduced if the meal contains chili pepper. When chili-containing meals are a regular part of the diet, insulin requirements drop even lower.
Plus, chili’s beneficial effects on insulin needs get even better as body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity) increases. In overweight people, not only do chili-containing meals significantly lower the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar levels after a meal, but chili-containing meals also result in a lower ratio of C-peptide/ insulin, an indication that the rate at which the liver is clearing insulin has increased.
And last but not least, a little Boost in Fat Burn:
As luck would have it, capsaicins promote fullness which can cause a reduction in calorie intake, and they cause an increase energy (calorie) expenditure after they are eaten – a direct increase in metabolism. Then, as an indirect metabolism boost, they promote less insulin requirements (as noted above), which can reduce the amount of fat stored in the body. Chili Peppers make for lean, mean, cycling machines.
This week, let’s leave the cans of processed green chili sauce on the shelves and make our own. Leave the extra junk ingredients, chemicals, and fillers. Bring on the chilies. As a healthy, strong cyclist, your whole-food diet should be completely satisfying and full of flavor. Maybe I’ll actually tackle my self-imposed challenge of a green chili vegetable smoothie. Bring on the heat.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.