Spicy, zesty, tangy...invigorating to my palate; chili seasoning doesn’t have to be hot to be tasty.

chilisauceLet me begin with the caveat that "chili sauce" can mean a WIDE variety of foods and condiments. Chili seasoning, like garam masala, is actually a blend of spices, a blend that can vary in ingredients from region to region and individual to individual. That being said, there are some main ingredients typically found in southwestern blends of chili, which is the kind I’ve doused liberally all over my morning eggs.  First ingredient? Chili peppers. Mix that with some apple cider vinegar, garlic, a touch of onion, cumin, cloves, coriander, oregano, a spot of honey, and we’re in for an amazing flavor adventure.

I’d love to be able to write more about the origination of chili as a sauce and meal but there is such a wide variety of information and definitely plenty of confusing facts that I think the safest bet is to stick with the flavor details of the sauce on my plate.

Red Chili Peppers are the main ingredient, which seem to have originated in the Americas. There is archeological data supporting their culinary use as early as 7500 B.C. They have since made their way around the globe and can be found in cuisine and medicinal interventions in a wide variety of cultures. Adding vinegar to the blend of chili and spices helps preserve and also synergize the flavors. It also helps deliver the heat. How hot a pepper is depends on its variety and environment, apparently the hotter and drier the climate, the hotter the pepper. The combining of spices and herbs with the chili helps moderate and enhance the flavorful qualities of the pepper, allowing it to be an actual flavor experience rather than simply flaming out your tastebuds.

chilipepperFrom a culinary perspective Chili Sause is a great as a condiment or a main flavor ingredient in your meal. I like to use it most as a condiment. Another way I love to use it is to make some healthy and flavorful snack options; soaking chickpeas in chili sauce and then baking them until they are crisp makes for a tasty snack food.

From a health perspective, chili sauce, especially if home made with quality ingredients, imparts a number of healthful qualities. Capsicum is the main chemical compound in chili peppers. It’s what makes them hot. Capsicum can be used internally and externally in a variety of ways to promote health.  Research demonstrates that it is anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant; helping to relieve oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. It also works topically as a pain reliever. Just make sure you avoid any mucus gland or sensitive areas!! Studies show capsicum can help relieve the pain of ulcers (seems counterintuitive in a way) and help the tissue begin to repair. It helps decrease the risk of a variety of cancers, most notably gastrointestinal mutations. It is a vasodilator, which means it enhances blood flow. Several studies have demonstrated that through improved vasodilation delivery of antioxidants is augmented resulting in a beneficial impact on tissue protein repair. Two studies in particular showed beneficial impact on DNA repair.

It could be worth dashing a few drops on a meal here and there... maybe even try your hand at making your own.