Who doesn’t love crispy, cheesy and oh-so-spicy jalapeno poppers? But, man! The usual version can wreck your diet! The good news is that you won’t need a deep-fryer to get the same sensational sensory satisfaction with this healthier version.
by Tina Martini, The Medicine Chef
I never seem to make enough of these. They go so fast!
Get your mise en place together first. The prep can be a little time consuming but will be well worth the effort. Begin by covering two or three sheet pans with aluminum foil for quick clean up. Place a rack on each of the sheet pans. I have cooling racks that fit right in my sheet pans. The poppers have to be elevated above the pan or they become too greasy. You could make a broiler pan work for you, just as long as the fat drips away from the poppers.
Use food handler gloves when prepping the peppers! I always use Jalapenos, Serranos, and Habeneros. Wash and dry your peppers. Cut them in half, lengthwise, and clean out all seeds and pith. Set aside.
To prepare the bacon, cut each slice into thirds. Don’t use center or thick cut bacon. It will produce a greasy, flabby mess. You want the bacon stretched as thin as possible so it will crisp up nicely around the poppers. This is a time when the cheaper bacon is actually the better choice.
Have toothpicks at the ready to secure your bacon wrappers, along with some Extra Sharp Aged Cheddar or Jalapeno Jack Cheese, cut into small pieces that will fit on top of the cream cheese. Speaking of which…
Cream Cheese Filling
- 4 ozs Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 small Tomato, remove seeds and rough chop
- 2 Green Onions, rough chop
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to integrate everything. Scrape the bowl down and let her rip! You want to let the motor run long enough to fluff up the cream cheese.
- Put this mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium tip. No piping bag? A large zip lock bag will work. Be sure to barely cut the tip off. You’ll have a mess if the hole is cut too large.
- We’re ready to assemble! By the way, I always end up with extra filling, which is great on sandwiches. Just plan to use it within 3 days.
- Holding the pepper in one hand and the piping bag/zip lock in the other, apply gentle pressure to the top of the bag, guiding the filling as you go. Be careful not to overfill as the cream cheese will puff up when baked.
- Once all peppers are filled, put your cheese of choice on top of the piped filling.
- Wrap and securing the bacon with toothpicks. I start the bacon at one end and spiral wrap to the other. Secure the pick lengthwise along the pepper.
- Cover and store in the fridge until game time.
- Bake at 350 degrees until bacon is really crispy. This will take 45-60 minutes.
- Remove from oven and rest 5 minutes.
- Place on serving platter and get out of the way! The stampede will start almost immediately!
Tasty Tip: If you like the smoky taste of chipotle chilies; use 3/4 of a chipotle and a teaspoon of the adobo sauce in the cream cheese filling.
Phyto Facts: Capsaicin is the oil that gives peppers their heat. Peppers of all types are a great source of Vitamin C. This combination of Capsaicin and Vitamin C is powerful medicine against arthritis. The common cold is no match for the medicine found in peppers. Research shows a 60% reduction in the length of time it will take you to heal from a cold with the use of chili peppers in your diet. Capsaicin and Vitamin C increase circulation and our metabolism. They both increase our ability to use oxygen more efficiently. When I train athletes at high altitudes, I always employ chili peppers to increase their red blood cell efficiency. The addition of green onions brings Quercitin to the party. This phytonutrient stops trauma in the body, speeding recovery after exercise. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of Bioflavonoids. These are considered a phyto group unto their own. Bioflavonoids are considered one of the most effective groups of age slowing anti-oxidants. They have earned the name “Super Anti-Oxidants” recently. Citrus is another source of these super-anti-agers. All of the phytonutrients in this recipe work together for maximum uptake and absorption. Cream cheese provides Alpa-lipoic Acid to keep our liver burning fat at maximum speed. ALA has also been determined to be another super anti-ager. Bacon is very high in Thiamin. This is good, as long as you are not in treatment for cancer. Thiamin manages the nervous system. And in this fast-paced world, that is good medicine. However, for many cancers, thiamin is considered “The Gatekeeper.” Too much thiamin has the potential to speed up cancers spread through the bodily systems. This is one of the reasons I insist on a vegan diet while a client is in treatment. Please buy non-nitrated pork products only. Women: nitrates are tougher on us than on men. They are strongly connected to colon cancer. Look at bacon as more of a treat than an everyday staple.
|by Chef Tina Martini, “The Medicine Chef” @MedicineChef | Facebook
Chef Martini is an experienced, well-versed television personality with a successful and proven track record. She holds a doctorate from Bastyr University in Naturopathy and a Nutrition degree from San Diego State University. She mixes cooking with nutrition, fitness and wellness!