Capsaicin… Just Sayin’


You sit down to eat a fresh, home-cooked Mexican dinner. You start with tortilla chips and salsa (Happy Tomato Fresh Salsa, perhaps?). The salsa is a red color contrasted with bits of green peppers and cilantro. You take a tortilla chip and dip it into the salsa. As you bite into the chip and begin to chew, you feel a pleasant, yet almost uncomfortable, burning sensation travel from your tongue to the roof of your mouth, down your throat, and even on to the tip of your lips. As you continue to eat more chips and salsa, the feeling intensifies and you find yourself reaching for your iced tea to help quench the fire inside of your mouth. A bead of sweat forms on your brow and a thin trickle of mucus teases its way to the tip of your nostril. Despite feeling like your insides are on fire, you find yourself enjoying the sensation. But why? What is it about the peppers in that salsa that make this happen? It’s the pepper’s principle heat activator capsaicin that causes this cycle of pain and pleasure.

Capsaicin is what you would call the “active ingredient” of chili peppers. It gets its name from after the Capsicum flowering plant genus its host peppers belong to. Peppers produce the capsaicin as a secondary metabolite to protect themselves from fungi and, ironically, mammals. The burning and irritating that contact with capsaicin causes to invading party’s extremities is intended to teach them a lesson. A lesson that, thankfully, mankind was too stubborn to learn.

One might ponder the reasoning behind including a pepper into the human diet that causes immediate irritation and burning. You would not eat a porcupine or use poison ivy as toilet paper, so why would you choose to consume something that obviously causes discomfort? Well there are many reasons why. The most obvious, hence the one I will spend the least time writing about is that capsaicin-producing peppers are DELICIOUS!

Now that we have the obvious out of the way, let’s look at some of the other reasons why we would eat something that sets our mouths on fire:

When you take a bite into that chip and feel the burning caused by the capsaicin, your brain begins releasing massive amounts of endorphins to deal with the heat. This trigger is because your brain registers the burning sensation caused by the peppers as pain. The endorphins will give you a naturally pleasant mood, which was already pretty pleasant to begin with if you were eating some delicious Mexican cuisine!

The way your body reacts to capsaicin serves as a means to clear your sinus cavities and relieve congestion experienced because of a cold or allergies. One of the first things you may notice after eating a blazing hot pepper is that your nose begins to run. This is your body’s way to try to clear out the irritating capsaicin. If you are stuffy and feel like your face pipes are all clogged up, try eating something really spicy!

Capsaicin also acts as a pain reliever. Some researchers believe that capsaicin reduces the amount of Substance P, which is a key transmitter of pain to the brain, in the nerves. Substance P has been linked to headaches, whether they be in the form of sinus headaches, cluster headaches, or migraines. People that suffer from arthritis are also found to have higher amounts of substance P in the fluid surrounding their joints. Capsaicin is believed to be so effective at reducing pain from arthritis, that you can purchase topical creams or patches made with capsaicin for pain relief.

Don’t listen to what they say, it’s good for your digestive tract! We’ve all joked about things being hotter on the way out than they were on the way in or “Montezuma’s Revenge” from eating Mexican food, but there’s a lot of evidence that suggests the contrary. Capsaicin is believed to stimulate the production of gastric mucus, which ensures a more thorough breakdown of foods in the stomach. Capsaicin also is known to fight bad bacteria in the intestines that may in fact cause diarrhea.  In your face, Montezuma’s Revenge!


Tis the Season!


I can’t believe the holidays are already upon us!  We’re really getting into the spirit of the season and doing a bit to give back to our community.  We’ll be donating gift baskets featuring our delicious salsa to Fort Worth Foodie’s Chef’s Holiday Pantry benefiting the Cooking Matters Program at the Tarrant Area Food Bank and the Fort Worth Chapter of the Texas Chefs Association. The event will take place on December 22 at Ridgmar Mall from 10-4.  For more information visit:

Secondly, we are currently donating $1 from every jar of salsa we sell at the Southside Urban Market to the Tarrant County CureWalk for Team Maddie in honor of our dear friend’s daughter who is battling brain cancer.  This will continue from now until the walk in April.  If you can’t make it to the market (South Main and Daggett, Saturdays 9-1) when we are scheduled to be there, you can make a contribution directly at

Finally, an update!


Well, I intended to update my blog every month at the least but SO much has happened that I haven’t had time!  Since my last post we did a few festivals, got into a few local stores, got picked up by CENTRAL MARKET (ahhh!!!!), moved to a new rental kitchen in a church, met a developer and started the process to build our own kitchen, and on and on.  All of this while homeschooling the kids and trying to take the time to enjoy it all.  I never expected all of this to happen to so fast but I’m definitely not complaining!

None of this would be possible without the support and kindness of friends and strangers alike.  Words will never be able to express my gratitude for all the love and encouragement we have received.  THANK YOU!!!!!!



I Am One Happy Tomato!

I’m 32 years old and I’ve finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up!  Up until about a month ago, I had no interest in doing anything but homeschooling my kids and taking care of my family.  Since becoming a mother, I have developed interests in natural/organic foods, healthy eating, green living, and so on; but I’ve never found a way to translate them into a career that I could immerse myself in while keeping family as my first priority.  When my husband, Sean, suggested that I find a way to sell my salsa at farmers markets and such, something clicked and I hit the ground running to find a way to make it happen.

I am bursting with excitement about this new chapter in my life!  Since embarking on this adventure, I have met so many new people in the community that have kindled my enthusiasm with their positive feedback and encouragement, and I look forward to meeting many more.  I’ve been busy laying the groundwork for my operation, playing with my new food processor, finalizing my recipes, as well as working with a phenomenal artist Matt Hogan on the Happy Tomato logo.

I can’t wait to see where this endeavor takes me and I look forward to sharing my yummy salsa with you!




Coming Soon- Happy Tomato Salsa!


We at Happy Tomato Fresh Foods are excited to announce that our fresh salsa will soon be available for purchase! We are working hard to get everything in order so that you can stock up on and enjoy our fresh salsa. Our salsa is made from fresh ingredients and does not contain any preservative. Our salsa is also made primarily from BPA-free tomatoes, giving you piece of mind while you and your friends and family consume it. Stay tuned to our website, as well as our Twitter and Facebook pages for more news on when our salsa will be available.