100 Foods: Chillies

While decluttering my bookcase I discovered a hidden gem: Parragon Books’ “100 Best Health Foods.”

This book takes an interesting, in-depth look at 100 amazing foods and discusses their healthy properties. That said, Parragon does not bother to go into any sort of detail as to which seasons the foods are from or where they are from, which is great… as the publisher is in the UK and I am not.

Also the recipes in this book are not necessarily for the busy on-the-go people or they don’t really make the healthy food the stand out in the completed dish.

My plan… I’m going to tackle these 100 health foods relative to their seasonality in my area (some are never seasonable here… but I will follow their seasons in the location in which they are grown) and find simple easy recipes that showcase the foods. Which could be great for amazing foods like plums… but not so great for anchovies…



This is another food where Parragon decides not to give you a specific on. The word chili comes from the Nahuatl (thank you Mayans) word Chilli which refers to the fruit of all plants from the genus Capsicum… members of the nightshade family. Other options for naming: mirch (Hindi), làjiāo (Chinese), cabai (Indonesian), purus (Latin), pilipili (Swahili), or phrik (Thai). Why the Mayan name? Chilies were discovered in the new world and transported throughout the world as a substitute for black peppercorns.

The 5 types of domesticated chili peppers:

1. Capsicum annum: bell peppers, cayenne and jalapenos

2. Capsicum frutescens: Tabasco, Thai peppers and piri piri

3. Capsicum chinense: the peppers that rank the highest on the Scoville scale: habanero, Datil and Scotch bonnets

4. Capsicum pubescens: South American rocoto peppers

5. Capsicum baccatum: South American aji peppers

What can you do with the chili plant? Quite a bit actually:

  • pepper pods used fresh, dried or pickled
  • ground dried chilies into powders
  • cook the chili
  • smoke the chili before cooking or using as a paste
  • cook the plant as greens
  • etc.

Chilies are high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron.

What do you do with chilies?


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