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Tasty Ways to Tame the Spicy Heat

Sure, spice is the spice of life, but when your mouth is on fire, you have two choices: relish in the heat or counteract it with something cool. Who hasn’t downed a glass of water or beer in a frantic panic after a nuclear mouth-blast of heat?

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Sandwiches

As it turns out, water or carbonated beverages can actually intensify or spread the capsaicin that’s causing that stinging sensation. There are better solutions out there for taming the flames — capsaicin is fat soluble, so creamy ingredients such as dairy and avocado (and fats from nuts and seeds) help “wash away” the heat, and raw ingredients can come to the rescue with doses of cooling refreshment.

These are so flavorful, you’ll likely find yourself seeking more heat just so you can go back and forth on a rollercoaster ride of sweet heat and cool relief.

Refreshing sauces can chill out the intensity of spicy dishes and highlight the flavor of smoked foods. Blend ingredients for a smooth sauce or chop and stir for a chunkier texture.

Cucumber Raita
Plain Yogurt + Cucumber + Cilantro + Cumin + Green Onions

Mint Salsa Verde
Mint + Parsley + Cilantro + Garlic + Lemon Juice + Chile Flakes

Cashew Sour Cream
Soak the cashews in boiling water, then blend this combo for creamy texture.
Raw Cashews + Cider Vinegar + Lemon Juice + Salt

Soothing sweet sips between bites of fire create a party of flavor. Serve a pitcher of these cool drinks with a few chilled glasses and some bandanas for brow-mopping.

Vegan Mango Lassi

Melon Seed Agua Fresca

Blueberry Lemonade Herb Punch

Cucumber-Cantaloupe Green Smoothie

Crisp, cool salads provide a counterpoint balance to that fire-breathing dragon in your belly and round out your meal with plenty of veggies.

Sunshine Kale Salad brings on the brightness with colorful peppers and a citrus dressing.

Jicama Salad with Cucumber and Lime can double as a finger food if you’re digging into some spicy wings. Who needs utensils?

Seaweed, Carrot and Avocado Salad combines cucumber with the subtle sweetness of carrots and rice vinegar for a refreshing, simple salad — and creamy avocado mellows out any tongue-tingling heat.

Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing is one of my favorite throw-together summertime meals that also delivers more soothing avocado-aid. 

How do you keep your cool when your mouth is on fire?