Jane Butel Says Eat More Chiles to Lose Weight

"Diet crazes come and go,because people get tired of boring food patterns or too many rules," says Jane Butel, author of 18 cookbooks, cooking school teacher and first to write about Southwestern and Mexican regional cooking. The best solution to weight maintenance is to develop healthy eating and lifestyle patterns.

To many, this might seem like impossible advice. How can I change that much? I don't have the time to learn new habits. Or, I can't afford expensive diet plans, special foods or learning programs.

"Actually you don't have to buy anything more than some pure chiles," says Butel. The chile can be any variety?red or green--the hotter the healthier. (Hotter chiles have a greater concentration of capsaicin, the spicy part of chiles that supplies the health benefits.) The easiest and healthiest diet will include regular consumption of chile--at least 24 days out of 30 or preferably every day.

Adding chiles to your meals or snacks can be as easy as eating some salsa or adding chile flakes to a salad dressing or marinade. Another idea is to use a chile-laden rub on meats or vegetables before grilling or sauting. Even pepper sauce such as Tabasco supplies some capsaicin, chile's unique health-giving substance.

First, how do chiles help your weight goals? They stimulate the endorphins in your body, making your body burn more "fuel". Eating chiles creates a sense of euphoria similar to a runner's high or even sex. So they leave one feeling a sense of well being often curbing one's appetite.

To those who don't think they can change their eating habits or are afraid of eating chiles too spicy hot?they can start by eating mild chiles, such as the green Anaheim's or southern New Mexican chiles. These are easily available in most markets, either fresh or canned. One can keep pure mild chile on hand for including as a condiment when cooking or for seasoning most any food. Chiles are so much healthier than salt or pepper. And, a sprinkling of pure ground chile accented with a squish of fresh lime juice can be so delightful...often alleviating the desire for salt and pepper.

Another plus to eating chiles is that chiles actually give you a sense of satisfaction from eating a smaller portion, thus reducing the desire to overeat. And chile-laden diets such as those from the Southwestern US and Northern Mexico are quite healthy and affordable. One of the healthiest diets in the world is the Northern Mexican diet where corn tortillas and pinto beans are liberally eaten flavored with pickled or fresh jalapenos or other chiles.

If you are really having trouble including chiles in your diet when traveling for instance, you can always make yourself a cup of hot chile tea made by adding ? teaspoon ground hot chile, such as cayenne and a teaspoon each of vinegar and honey to hot water.

Side benefits to eating chiles are endless. They aid your heart health by eliminating plaque in your vascular system, aid digestion, cauterize ulcers, prevent diseases such as cancer and even assist with curing the common cold and more.

Here are some quick and easy recipes that feature chiles from Real Women Eat Chiles by Butel to assist you in getting started with eating more chiles.


Chipotles have a strong, smoky quality due to the fact that they are smoked, ripe jalapenos. A mild-mannered side dish such as rice or mashed potatoes makes a good "bed" to absorb the yummy juices.

Cooking Time: 8 to 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle powder

2 cup chicken broth (can be made from chicken base or bouillion)

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup ground pure mild red chile

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of all fat and sinew Cooked rice, potatoes or pasta, for accompaniment

1. Pour the chicken broth into a mini food processor or blender, and add the garlic, ground chile and cumin. Process until smooth.

2. Transfer the chile mixture to a nonreactive bowl and add the chicken breasts, coating each side.

3. Heat the grill, stovetop grill or a well-seasoned skillet to medium-high. Cook the chicken (reserving the marinade) for about 4 minutes per side or until done. Cook the marinade in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes.

4. Serve over fluffy cooked rice or mashed potatoes, spooning on sauce.

PER SERVING: Calories 167, Protein 28g, Carbohydrates 5g, Fiber 2g, Fat 4g, Saturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 73mg, Sodium 73mg.


A dusting or rub of chile on salmon adds a wonderful flavor. Pan searing or grilling works equally well. If the weather is not conducive to grilling or if you are in a hurry, pan searing is ideal.

Cooking Time: 6 to 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

1 tablespoon ground mild red chile
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound fresh boneless salmon filet
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup Mango Salsa

1. In a small bowl, combine the chile, sugar and salt. Cut the salmon into 2 pieces. Rinse, then pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the chile mixture evenly over the salmon.

2. Sprinkle salt in a heavily seasoned skillet. Place over medium heat until hot.

3. Saute the salmon for 3-5 minutes per side, until crisp and brown on the outside and still moist and bright pink on the inside. Serve on salsa.

Per Serving: Calories 388, Protein 35g, Carbohydrates 34g, Fiber 4g, Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 96mg, Sodium 661mg.


The gingery peach flavor of ripe, pungent mangos is wonderful with any mild-flavored seafood or poultry. You could also serve this as a dipping salsa with jicama or corn chips.

Preparation Time: 5 to 7 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

3/4 cup fresh mango, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup diced Spanish onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pequin quebrado

1. Combine all ingredients and toss together.

2. Allow the flavors to blend for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

PER SERVING: Calories 41, Protein 1g, Carbohydrates 10g, Fiber 2g, Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 6mg.


Seared corn or leftover grilled corn definitely sets this sauce apart. This vegetarian dish has a great fresh flavor and is vegetarian?vegan without the cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

2 ears corn grilled Mexican style or 1, 10 oz. package frozen corn kernels*
1 cup evaporated skim milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1, 15 oz. can spinach, without salt, well drained
cup chopped onion
1 cup grated low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

Nonstick oil spray

1. Cut the grilled corn from the cob. If using frozen corn, see note.

2. In a blender, combine the milk, garlic and corn. Process until smooth. Transfer to a shallow plate.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with nonstick oil spray.

4. Dip each warm tortilla in the corn mixture. Place on a flat surface and sprinkle with one-eighth of the spinach, onion and cheese, reserving some cheese for garnish. Roll, then place seam side down in the baking dish. Cover with the rest of the corn mixture, making sure that you pour it evenly over each enchilada. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve hot.

*If using frozen corn, place it in a heavy, seasoned skillet over medium-high heat to brown the edges of most kernels.

PER SERVING: Calories 330, Protein 21 g., Carbohydrates 47 g. Fiber 7 g. Fat 9 g., Saturated Fat 4 g. Cholesterol 23 mg., Sodium 413 mg.

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