A member of the spicy chile family, cayenne gets its heat from capsaicin, a compound known to reduce pain (just don’t get it in your eyes), prevent ulcers by destroying bacteria and stimulating stomach-protective juices, and assist weight loss by suppressing appetite and revving up metabolism. Cayenne pepper also provides a hefty dose of vitamin A.

Buy ground cayenne as fresh as possible and keep it tightly sealed in glass, away from warmth and sunlight—not above your stove, which exposes it to heat and humidity.

Tea
Got a cold? Mix a pinch of cayenne into a cup of hot beverage to stimulate nasal passages and ease congestion.

Breading
Combine ½ teaspoon cayenne, ½ teaspoon garlic salt, ¼ cup minced or ground almonds, and 1 cup panko or regular bread crumbs; press onto catfish fillets and drizzle with oil. Roast at 375 degrees until fish flakes easily, 12–15 minutes.

Mac ’n’ cheese
Stir as much cayenne as you dare into your next macaroni and cheese or manicotti filling; the cheese’s creaminess and the pasta’s starch will diminish the burn.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Liven up your vegetable intake with this zesty dish. Cayenne and paprika lend heat and color; lemon and parsley add bright but mellowing tastes.

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. In a small bowl, whisk 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon cayenne, ¼ teaspoon paprika, and salt to taste.

3. In a medium bowl, combine dressing with 4 cups (about 1 pound) cauliflower florets and toss thoroughly to coat.

4. Spread in a 9x13-inch pan, and roast 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and tender. Toss with 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley. Serves 4.