When you’re hit with a mid-day snack attack, turn up the heat on your tastebuds, and quell those cravings! Not only are spicy foods seriously good, they can be good for you too. Reaching for the spice rack can temporarily elevate your metabolism, and the vibrant flavors can keep you from over-snacking.
“Tastier foods are more satisfying than bland ones, which you tend to eat faster, and with less fulfillment,” David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition told WebMD. Plus, if you’re swapping fat and sugar for new spices, you’ll be introducing new flavors without adding extraneous calories. Healthy and hot, these eight snacks will make you give into your temptations.
1. Sriracha and Brown Sugar Almonds
Get your tongue tingling with this snack from Tasty Kitchen. It will have your mouth watering, and not only from the Sriracha. The brown sugar and soy sauce will give it an element of salty-sweetness — and, really, is there a better snacking combination than that?
- 1 cup raw shelled almonds
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so until the almonds are toasted and fragrant. Remove from the oven and pour almonds onto a cold plate until the Sriracha sauce is done.
For the Sriracha and brown sugar sauce, put the brown sugar, Sriracha and soy sauce into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring and heating just until the brown sugar is dissolved. Immediately pour it over the almonds and toss to coat the almonds. Spread on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.
2. Spicy Baked Feta
Cheese lovers will want to nibble on AllRecipes.com‘s baked feta all day — but they won’t need to, since the 8.6 grams of protein per serving will keep them feeling full. In addition to a cheesy snack, it works well as an appetizer. Pair it with tomatoes, a crusty bread, or toast.
- 1 (8 ounce) slice feta cheese
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes, or as needed
- 1 pinch dried oregano
Directions: Preheat an oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the feta in an ovenproof baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover liberally with pepper flakes, and sprinkle with oregano. Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until feta is soft, about 10 minutes.
3. Hot and Crunchy Avocado Fries
Make your fries healthier and spicier by following this recipe from Self. Panko breadcrumbs provide a satisfying crunch, and chili powder brings up the heat. Of course, there are the healthy additions too — like ground flax which adds protein and fiber.
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1 egg
- 2 peeled avocados
- vegetable oil cooking spray
- hot sauce
Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, flax and chili powder. In another bowl, whisk the egg. Cut avocados into 16 wedges, dip wedges in egg, press into breadcrumb mixture and transfer to a baking sheet. Coat with vegetable oil cooking spray. Bake until outside is crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and drizzle with hot sauce.
4. Chili-Lime Peanuts
Generally smaller than your average peanut and with a reddish skin, Spanish peanuts are commonly used in snacks, butters, and candies according to The Peanut Institute. We see no reason for this trend to stop, and with Bon Appétit‘s spicy snack recipe, it doesn’t have to. The peanuts can be made ahead of time and stored for a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
- 2 cups raw Spanish peanuts (about 10½ ounces)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra-virgin)
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss peanuts, olive oil, coarse kosher salt, and sugar in medium bowl to coat evenly. Scrape mixture onto rimmed baking sheet. Roast nuts until fragrant and beginning to darken, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer nuts to large bowl. Add lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and cayenne pepper; toss to coat. Cool nuts completely.
5. Spicy Palomitas
After a visit to Elote Cafe, Fit, Fun, & Delish wanted to make the spicy palomitas, or spicy popcorn, enjoyed at the restaurant. The cafe’s cookbook provided the answer, and now anyone can give their popcorn a spicy kick by sprinkling this mixture on top.
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
- 1 tablespoon ground ancho chile
Directions: Mix all ingredients and sprinkle as much as you want over fresh popped popcorn.
6. Baked Chili Cheese Fritos
From Minimalist Baker comes this at-home version of Fritos. For a little extra time in the kitchen, you’ll trade unpronounceable ingredients for a baked version that will satisfy your chip-driven cravings.
- 6 yellow corn tortillas
- 2-3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
- 1.5 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each: cumin, onion powder, garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Add all spices and seasonings to a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut your tortillas into equal strips. Transfer to baking sheet and toss in 2-3 tablespoons olive or canola oil until well coated.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Watch out — they’ll burn quickly past the 14 to 15 minute mark. Once removed from the oven, immediately add tortilla strips to the seasoning mix and toss to coat. If they appear to have dried in the oven while baking, you can spritz them with a little oil so the seasonings stick better.
Transfer to a serving bowl or plate with a slotted spatula to shake off excess seasoning. You’ll likely have extra seasoning, which you can store for later use if desired. Serve immediately with chili, soup or dips. Store leftovers in a storage bag or tupperware at room temp for up to a couple days, though best when fresh.
7. Spicy Cashew and Coconut Snack Mix
Supremely spicy isn’t for everyone, and if you need to temper the tastes of a hot snack mix, try the spicy cashew and coconut recipe by Girl Cooks World. It will be the right balance between sweet and spicy that your day needs.
- 1 tablespoon coconut or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened, dried coconut
- 1 red jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch freshly ground pepper
Directions: Heat the oil and the honey in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the cashews, stir to coat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Add the coconut and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until both the cashews and the coconut are beginning to turn golden.
Add the chile pepper, salt and ground pepper and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cashews and the coconut are both golden brown and the chile has toasted a bit. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a serving bowl. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
8. Spicy Seasoned Pretzels
Bored by regular pretzels? Tastes Lovely has a spice mix that will banish any boredom, and doesn’t require any baking. All you have to do to shake up your snacking is shake up a bag of spices and let the pretzels soak.
- 1 (16-ounce) bag tiny twist pretzels
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 teaspoon garlic salt (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt)
- 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions: Pour oil and spices into a gallon ziploc bag. Seal and shake to evenly combine oil with spices. Add in pretzels, seal up ziploc bag, and gently shake to combine. Allow pretzels to soak up the seasoned oil for at least 6 hours or ideally for 24 hours. Turn bag to shake up pretzels every few hours. No need to bake them, the pretzels will soak up all the oil.