There is no doubt about it, I loooooove salsa. I share equal affection for salsa's sidekick, guacamole, but I enjoy adding salsa to a wider variety of foods. Though most people often equate salsa with spicy, I don't because I cannot tolerate spicy foods. No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. I have minimal tolerance for spicy foods and when I unknowingly ingest it, the scene involves spontaneous coughing, excessive eye tearing and unattractive facial contortions from the sensation of fire emitting from my throat and tongue. So, when I created my version of salsa goodness, it had to be mild with the OPTION of adding in the hot stuff.🔥
The direct translation of salsa is sauce and its roots can be traced to ancient times, extending as far back as the Aztec civilization. Today, a variety of salsas exist but the basic ingredients are tomato, onion, chiles and spices of some sort. Sweet, fruit-based salsas with mango, papaya or pineapple are quite popular, as are tomatillo and roasted vegetable salsas, but if you're going the classic route, it's all about tomato based versions!
As a consumer, a mom and a dietitian, salsa is always my top choice when it comes to condiments. Why? Because it's ALL VEGETABLES and you can never ever go wrong boosting vegetables in your diet. Here are some nutrition highlights about three vegetables in my salsa recipe:
- Tomatoes: They're not only bursting with immune-boosting vitamins C and A and heart healthy potassium, tomatoes have the antioxidant lycopene, a naturally occurring chemical in foods that gives fruit and vegetables their red color. Lycopene neutralizes free radicals that cause age-related diseases, like prostate cancer, Alzheimer's disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Canned tomatoes and tomato products (like ketchup and tomato sauces) have more lycopene than fresh because the heating process changes the lycopene into a form that's easier for the body to use. You get the best of both worlds in this recipe because it calls for raw and canned tomatoes! For more info on this superfood, check out Tomato Wellness.
- Onion: Often overlooked as a health food, onions are high in vitamin C, they're a good source of fiber, have a mere 60 calories per cup, and add tons of flavor to a variety of foods. According to the National Onion Association, they have a high amount of the flavonoid quercetin, which functions as an antioxidant that helps deactivate harmful molecules to body cells. Studies have associated quercetin with slowing the growth of certain cancer cells and helping heal stomach ulcers.
- Green chile: Canned green chiles are also knows as Anaheim or New Mexico chiles. Green chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, iron and potassium. A 1/2 cup serving of green chile peppers provides 181.9 milligrams of vitamin C--double the daily amount recommended for adults! Not only do I love the smokey, yet not-spicy flavor canned green chiles add to this recipe, I love that I can find them at my grocery store all year long.
Is Salsa Kid Friendly? Yes it is!
How do I know that my Just Good Salsa recipe is kid-friendly? My kiddos have helped me both prepare and eat this stuff up! This is especially important to note since August is Kids Eat Right Month! If your kids are 12 years or older, they can toss everything into the blender and make this salsa all by themselves. For younger children (4-11 years), assist them with the following steps: chopping onions, opening cans of tomatoes and green chiles, cutting and squeezing limes and securing the lid on the blender or food processor. After that, have them drop everything into the blender and watch the magic happen! Since this salsa isn't spicy, kids can pour it on all sorts of foods or dip their chips right into a bowl of it without the fear of burning their mouths off (kids, I've got your back on this one! 😉). Have fun in the kitchen!
For guidance on age-appropriate kitchen tasks for kids, check out this fantastic chart, "How Your Child Can Help in the Kitchen," shared by my colleague and child & school nutrition expert, Wesley Delbridge, RD.
Just Good Salsa
Recipe by: Christy Wilson, RD
Makes: 2 1/2 cups
Total time: 10 minutes
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1, 4 ounce can green chiles
- 1/2 cup sweet or yellow onion, chopped
- 3 pearl or campari tomatoes (or any other tomato-on-the-vine)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (I prefer key limes)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon season salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional: Jalapeño or any hot chile pepper of choice
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to desired consistency.
- Serve immediately or store in a jar in the refrigerator up to five days. Attempt not to eat the entire 2 1/2 cups of salsa in one sitting!