It’s autumn, and for many around the country, that means family and friend get-togethers to watch post-season baseball or football games. If you’re hosting, it’s nice to have a meal you can prepare and leave, so you’re not stuck in the kitchen. Slow cookers are great for this. And this Slow Cooker Fajita recipe is perfect for a weekend game.
Here’s how to make them and why you might want to add more chili peppers to your weekend.
Keto Zone: If in the Keto Zone, make sure to use Stevia in place of honey and Keto Tortillas.
Nutrition Information (excluding tortillas): 252 calories, 14 grams fat, 7 grams net carbs (9 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber) 26 grams protein
Not only are these fajita great for game-watching, they’re also packed with great nutrition for your body.
Whether dried, powdered, roasted, or fresh, chilies have a lot of health benefits to offer. Specifically, capsaicin, the components of chilies that make them hot to taste, are nutrition powerhouses. Here’s what a little weekend chili can do for you:
Capsaicin can help you lose weight in 3 ways.
First, they promote fullness which can cause a reduction in calorie intake, especially when added to a Keto Zone diet.
Then, capsaicin actually induces increased energy (calorie) expenditure after they are consumed. This means that they directly boost metabolism (1).
Third, it is one of a few foods likely to increase the conversion of white adipose tissue (low energy expenditure) to brown adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue increases the cell’s calorie burn and energy expenditure, which is great for fat loss and lean mass (2).
What’s more, they also positively affect blood sugars and insulin (see below) for more indirect metabolism help, promoting fat loss.
Capsaicin is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes.
The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains the more anti-inflammatory action.
The hottest varieties include habañero and Scotch bonnet peppers. Jalapeños are next in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers. Capsaicin is actually 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 improve blood cholesterol and increase HDL, and reduce triglyceride levels and platelet aggregation (3).
They also increase the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots.
Together, these actions are very heart-healthy.
What’s more, cultures in which hot pepper is consumed liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
As an antioxidant, chili peppers may also protect the fats in the blood from damage by free radicals (4).
When fats are oxidized by free radicals, atherosclerosis can form.
In one 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 (5).
Ever eaten food so spicy it makes your nose run? This is common. The peppery heat stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed up nose or congested lungs.
If you suffer sinus infections, you can reduce them by keeping sinuses clear with spicy foods!
Red chili peppers’ capsaicin, the compound responsible for their heat, stops the spread of prostate cancer cells through a variety of mechanisms.
In fact, capsaicin triggers cell-death in both primary types of prostate cancer cell lines, those whose growth is stimulated by male hormones and those not affected by them.
In addition, capsaicin lessens the expression of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), inhibits the ability of the most potent form of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, to activate PSA, and directly inhibits PSA transcription, causing PSA levels to plummet (6).
Chili peppers have a false, bad reputation for contributing to stomach ulcers.
Not only do they not cause ulcers, but they can help prevent them by killing bacteria (H. pylori). This can improve overall digestive health.
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.
In addition, in overweight subjects, chili-containing meals significantly lower the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar levels after a meal AND result in a lower ratio of C-peptide/ insulin. This indicates that the rate at which the liver is clearing insulin has increased.
Lastly, new in lab and pre-clinical studies are showing promise that capsaicin can reduce metabolic syndrome by improving cell function (7).
Of note, if you know you are intolerant of affected by nightshade vegetables, you may not tolerate many chilis in your diet, so test it out and take note of any issues. Some people report more food intolerance symptoms from leaky gut when nightshades are included.
Whether you need a recipe for weekend ball games or a busy evening, these slow cooker fajitas are easy and delicious. What’s more, they are loaded with real food ingredients and chilis to support your health from your cells on up. Try them this weekend!