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Festive olive wreath holiday appetizer

You did it! You just found the prettiest way to serve olives this holiday season. Welcome the holiday olive wreath to your table this year. It’s amazing how ordinary olives go from drab to centerpiece status with just a few springs of rosemary. Add some fresh mozzarella pearls and some sweet and tangy pepper drops for color, and you have an appetizer platter that’s ready to party. What’s better still? This olive wreath can be assembled in just a few minutes, so no need to save it for special occasions. Throw one together for your couples holiday movie night-in, while you’re decorating the house for the holidays, or anytime a friend stops by to chat this season. I fill the middle of mine with crackers — especially when I can find adorable shapes like these stars — but feel free to leave the center open. You can always serve crackers…

6 Benefits of eating spicy foods

Eating spicy foods can be a point of pride for some people. Friends compete to see who can eat the hottest wings without crying. Restaurants tout their Ghost Pepper salsas, and TV show crews travel thousands of miles to film their hosts taking on spicy food challenges at fairs and festivals. But aside from a badge of honor — and maybe the thrill of it — there are several benefits to eating spicy foods. Of course, if you already have reflux or gastro issues, eating spicy foods may make you feel worse. But, if you don’t have these issues and your stomach is strong, you may experience some of these health benefits of spicy foods: 1. A boost in metabolism. Studies have shown that people who eat spicy foods burned more calories and had less of an appetite after eating red pepper. Spicy foods, like hot peppers, contain the capsaicin,…

Survey reveals top 5 most popular hot sauces in the US

Is there a single food out there that isn’t made infinitely more delicious by adding hot sauce? You probably put it on everything from enchiladas to egg rolls. But even though you love all hot sauces, you probably pick a favorite and stick with it whenever possible. In honor of National Hot Sauce Day on January 22, Instacart compiled its data to bring us a list of the most popular hot sauces in America, according to Food & Wine. Did your favorite make the cut? 1. Cholulah Cholulah ranks as America’s favorite hot sauce, and it’s no surprise. The level of heat along with a delicious blend of spices complements most foods without overwhelming them — a true sign of a good hot sauce. The sauce was named for the Mexican city of Cholula, Puebla (founded somewhere between 800 and 200 B.C.E.), and wasn’t available in the United States until…

Slow cooker Italian chicken, peppers and onions

When I gave up eating sausage, I knew Italian sausage sandwiches would present a problem. I always loved coming home on a Sunday to the smell of that big simmering pot of spicy sauce and peppers. What I always knew though, was that the sausage, strangely, was my least favorite part. Sure, the meat added heartiness to the sandwich, but the flavor and the spice could be replicated in a healthier way with veggies and lean chicken as the centerpiece. If you’re trying to eat healthier, you have to try this easy slow cooker recipe. Just toss in all of the ingredients and forget about it until dinner time. The peppers and sauce are delicious, and the sprinkling of fennel seeds will trick your taste buds, just slightly, into thinking it’s the original sausage recipe. If you like foods really spicy, consider adding even more hot pepper liquid. If you like…

This is your brain on a Carolina Reaper pepper. Any questions?

Remember those old anti-drug commercials with the motto of “This is your brain on drugs,” and the sizzling egg? Well, now we know what a brain looks like on one of the hottest peppers in the world. A 34-year-old man took part in a hot pepper eating competition in 2016 and ate one “Carolina Reaper.” The Reaper, a cross between a red habanero and a Bhut jolokia pepper, averages 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units. (For comparison, a jalapeno measures in between 1,000 and 10,000.) The man, who wasn’t named, started dry heaving but with no actual vomit. Then it got worse. “He then developed intense neck and occipital head pain that became holocephalic,” according to a report in the British Medical Journal. “During the next few days, on at least two occasions and in retrospect he thought probably more often, he experienced brief intense thunderclap headaches lasting seconds. This is…

Strawberries top list of produce with most pesticides, avocados have the least

If you pass on the organic produce in order to save a few bucks, perhaps you should at least consider the organic strawberries, new research suggests. For the third year in a row, strawberries rank the worst on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables. The annual list looks at which of our grocery store produce is harboring the highest number of harmful pesticide residues. This year, more than 98 percent of samples of fruits like strawberries, peaches, cherries and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue on the skin. About a third of all strawberry samples had at least 10 pesticides present, the study reported. One sample had an “astounding” 22 pesticide residues. Behind strawberries on the Dirty Dozen list landed spinach. About 97 percent of spinach samples showed pesticide residues were present. Nectarines, apples and grapes rounded out the top five. The report is based…

Roasted Red Pepper Cauliflower soup recipe is ready in no time

Roasted red peppers are one of those foods I keep stocked at all times. You can quickly elevate a basic chicken breast, pasta or pizza with a creamy roasted red pepper sauce. And it’s just as easy to make them a meal all on their own like in this tangy and satisfying soup made with cauliflower and creamy goat cheese. Roasted Red pepper Cauliflower soup Serves: 4-6 Ingredients 4 large roasted red peppers 1 bag cauliflower florets 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp olive oil 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth 1 medium onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped 3-4 springs fresh thyme 6 ounces goat cheese salt fresh ground black pepper Directions Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread cauliflower on baking sheet in one layer and brush with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast for about 20-30 minutes or until florets are tender. Turn once in the middle of cooking. In a…

Spicy cranberry and pomegranate, brie crostini bites

Crostini literally means “little toasts.” But don’t let that simple translation fool you into thinking this is some bland breakfast. These tiny bites bring big flavor to the party. The sweet pomegranate seeds pair perfectly with the tart cranberries, creamy brie, crunchy baguette and just the right amount of kick from a jalapeño pepper. (You can leave out the pepper if you must, but you’ll miss out on that delicious sweet heat.) It’s the closest thing to appetizer perfection that can come out of your kitchen this holiday. Cranberry and pomegranate Crostini Crostini Ingredients 1 quality baguette, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp salted butter, melted 8 ounces of brie cheese, softened Cranberry Relish Ingredients 1 pound fresh cranberries, rinsed 1 cup sugar 3/4-1 cup pomegranate arils or seeds 1 jalapeño pepper (adjust according to your love of spice), finely chopped Directions Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a…

Sweet Potato Chipotle Hummus

Originally published March 1, 2017 A recipe for a Sweet Potato Chipotle Hummus recently piqued my interest. Armed with a leftover sweet potato to use up from dinner last night, I gave it a try. The recipe is supposed to taste like classic hummus with a sweet and spicy flare. Instead, of straight garbanzo beans and sesame, this recipe calls to replace half the usual beans with one baked sweet potato. The substitution adds a creamy sweetness that was great on chips and cucumbers slices. The recipe was easily accomplished in the Vitamix, but needed more than the suggested 2 tablespoons of olive oil to help it along. I added a sprinkling of salt and pepper as well as a good amount of cayenne for both taste and show. If you love hummus, you’ll love this creative rendition. Here’s the recipe with my adjustments. Sweet Potato Chipotle Hummus Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes Servings: 8…

Enjoying spicy foods linked to lower blood pressure

People who eat spicy foods may have a heightened sensitivity to the taste of salt, a new study suggests. The findings were recently published in the journal Hypertension and show there is reason to believe eating spicy foods may help people consume less salt. Eating less salt means lower blood pressure and better health for millions of people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people are eating too much salt in all corners of the world. The recommended daily salt intake is less than 5 grams, but most people consume somewhere between 9 and 12 grams. The WHO estimates that 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if salt consumption was reduced to the recommended levels. The health issue prompted Zhiming Zhu, M.D., professor of cardiovascular medicine and metabolism at the Chongqing Institute of Hypertension in China to pursue alternatives to salt. Zhu and his team decided to study spicy food…