Salsa: A Low-Cal Taste Sensation

August 28, 2013


Looking to lose weight without sacrificing delicious flavors? Take advantage of summer’s luscious, nutritious tomato bounty. Fresh tomato salsa – also known as salsa fresca, pico de gallo, or salsa cruda south of the border – is a delicious condiment that’s a spicy complement to many foods.

When we say “salsa,” your first thought is probably “tortilla chips” – and rightly so. Chips and salsa make a perfect mid-day snack, appetizer, or light meal. Choose baked chips to reduce the calories and you’ll have a Mexican fiesta you can feel good about. Or use cucumbers, celery, or zucchini discs as low-cal substitutes.

Salsa is also a great at breakfast. Serve it over scrambled eggs or an egg-white omelet as a low-cal alternative to cheese and sour cream. Salsa’s great on fish as a replacement for cream sauces.

Stir in some diced chicken meat and toss it into the microwave for a quick topping for leftover rice. Scoop fresh salsa onto a halved avocado for a taste of Mexican-style heaven.

And of course, this versatile salsa is perfect with any kind of Mexican dish.

Summer is an especially good time to make salsa because of the abundance of fresh, ripe tomatoes.

Sometimes called love apples, these gifts from the Aztecs are low in calories, void of cholesterol and fat, and ripe with nutritional goodness: antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Buy organic or pesticide-free, especially if using cherry tomatoes. Choose by firmness and fragrance.

You can smell the rich, deep aroma of ripe fruit. Tomatoes that are picked while still green and ripened in the warehouse with gas smell like nothing you’d want to eat.

Remember: The chilies you choose determine the heat of the salsa. Mild hatch chilies will add flavor but not much spice. Select serranos if you are truly macho.

Jalapeños are a good middle ground, but the pith and seeds can be deceptively hot. Habañeros are not for beginners.

Take care when chopping fresh chilies. Some people wear gloves. In any case, you shouldn’t touch your eyes or sensitive body parts.

The fiery capsicum in the chilies is an oil and it does not wash off easily. Tequila internally and externally is pretty effective in neutralizing the fire, or at least you won’t care as much. Milk is said to help a little too.

This recipe makes about four cups. Feel free to add corn, black beans, diced cucumber, dried oregano, or cumin to make this your very own signature salsa.


Salsa Fresca


2 or 3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (or parsley if you must)
1 clove garlic (or two if you desire)
One small fresh jalapeño, hatch or serrano chili pepper, minced
Two or three large limes
One to two shots tequila – optional, for medicinal purposes


Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, and chilies to a small mixing bowl. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top and mix gently. Add a few drops of tequila to the salsa if you like, or just down the shots yourself in celebration of creating such tasty salsa. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate a few hours to let the flavors develop.

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