Daily energy metabolism can be considered as having three elements: basal metabolic rate, diet-induced thermogenesis and the energy cost of physical activity.
If we are looking to increase energy use in order to feel more satiated by foods or to shed a little excess weight then we need to consider rebalancing energy in and energy out. Alongside eating lower density foods and ramping up the physical activity we can look at which food increase thermogenesis – the converting of calories into heat.
One of my favourite contenders is the wonderfully sleek and visually pleasing chili pepper. Researchers have found that it is capsaicin, the active chemical in chili peppers, that can induce thermogenesis, and increase feeling of satiety thereby reducing hunger. One study at the University of California, Los Angeles conducted in 2010 found that, when included as part of a low-calorie diet, chillies push the body to burn stored fat as fuel and aid weight loss by raising body temperature (this being the thermogenic effect).
The addition of chilli to meals, in my house, is daily. Whether this is minor addiction or an adaption to spicier flavours I’m unsure. What I do know is that the mild kick of a little chilli in a soup or stew, a quinoa dish or even sprinkled upon poached egg with avocado is unbeatable.
Today I indulged in a little food play, blending some vibrantly red foods together which turned out to be a winning combination.
Quinoa & Halloumi with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Chilli pepper
– I used red quinoa here purely for the colour blend
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh sieve
1 large red onion
2 plump garlic cloves
6 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 red pepper cut into strips
¼ teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes (or more if you like spicy food)
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Serve with rocket and strips of fried halloumi
Simply sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil, paprika and chilli until translucent, add red pepper and cook for a further 3-4 minutes on a very low heat. Add quinoa and 2 cups of water and cook until the grains are tender. Add sun-dried tomatoes.
When the mixture has cooked a little whisk up the lime dressing and add to the quinoa. Pan fry the halloumi and serve on top. Garnish with rocket. Also goes well with a boiled egg sitting on the top for addition of extra protein to keep fuller for longer.