There are a lot of things to love about summer, and one of the best things is the food. When the temperature starts rising, it is time to light up the grill, break out the party platters, and bite into fresh, juicy, summer fruit. Another great thing about summer is, of course, the hot weather. To get the best of both worlds, bring the heat to your favorite dishes by adding some extra spice.

You just can’t beat those foods that make your tongue smart and your nose run. Powerful flavor is not all there is to like about spicy foods, though. They also have a number of health benefits. Capsaicin, the ingredient that adds spice to hot peppers, may support weight loss and heart health, while curcumin, an antioxidant found in turmeric, may help fight cancer. Eating spicy foods tastes good and is good for you, so try putting a hot twist on these three classic foods of summer.

Corn on the Cob

cornSummer is the perfect time to enjoy a nice ear of corn on the cob—or five. Boiled corn is delicious, but the best way to enjoy it is hot off the grill. There is nothing like unwrapping an ear of corn from its foil, slathering it in butter, and chowing down on the sweet goodness. Whether you prefer to eat it typewriter style or like to go round and round the cob, grilled corn is a favorite for family dinners and neighborhood cookouts alike.
By adding a layer of spice to the sweetness of the corn, you amplify both flavors for the dish that makes a real impact. Before you take your corn off the grill, mix up a rub of salt and cayenne pepper. Cumin and chili powder also complement corn nicely, so you can use them as substitutes or additions. Once your corn is ready, butter it as usual and then add your rub. The explosion of flavors in your mouth will have you returning for seconds and thirds. You won’t want to share, but do it anyway—your guests deserve a try!

Deviled Eggs

eggs deviledA favorite contribution to picnics and barbecues everywhere, deviled eggs are easy to make and fun to share. For standard preparation, you blend the yolks of hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Then you stick the yolk combination right back into the halved egg whites for a slightly-more-than-bite-sized snack.
To change things up a bit, you can swap the plain mayonnaise for a spicier variety. Hampton Creek Justmayo comes in sriracha and chipotle flavors, two tantalizing choices that will add just the right amount of heat to make those deviled eggs earn their title. To balance out the extra spice and add another dimension of flavor, crumble bacon on top. Finish it off with a bright sprinkle of paprika. This is one appetizer that partygoers will not soon forget.

Watermelon Salad

Watermelons are another ideal food for feeding a crowd, and they are best enjoyed in the summertime. They may be cumbersome, but they are easy to cut into slices or chunks for everyone to share. They are a treat you can feel good about, too, since they are packed with vitamin C and other important nutrients. Instead of stopping with just plain old watermelon, try bringing a little something extra to the table by mixing up a spicy watermelon salad.

All it takes is a nice, ripe watermelon and an adventurous spirit. Some varieties of watermelon salad call for cayenne pepper, red wine vinegar, and feta cheese. Others require cumin, chili powder, and tomatoes. Find a recipe that aligns with your personal preferences and get chopping. You can even come up with your own concoction if you are really daring. At the next party, your friends will be impressed with your unusual offerings—just be sure to warn them about the spice first!


Eat the Heat

If you want to fully embrace the fun of this summer season, try mixing up some hot new versions of old favorites. You can have some extra fun in the kitchen and be the talk of the table at every gathering. And hey, if you don’t get your recipe exactly right the first time, don’t sweat it. Some studies suggest that eating  spicy food helps you live longer, so you might just be perfecting and enjoying these recipes for another one hundred summers to come.