Tortilla chips aren't the healthiest dip-scooping tool, but salsa--America's
favorite tortilla chip topping--is much better. Salsa is sensational both
for your body and your taste buds.
A spicy and savory sauce that features diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro,
chili peppers and more, salsa was originally introduced to the American
public primarily for dipping chips, especially corn tortilla chips. With
origins south of the U.S. border, the word
salsa is Spanish for "sauce," which itself comes from the Latin
salsus or 'salted'. As this implies, many salsas are both salty and spicy.
Even before the arrival of the Spanish, the ancient Mayans were making
salsa by using the traditional mortar and pestle, or
molcajete, although now homemade salsa is easier to prepare with a blender.
Salsa has evolved to become the quintessential go-to healthy dip that replaces
caloric sour cream-based concoctions. If you are willing to broaden your
palate, then you will soon discover that salsa can be used for many more
tasty and healthy eating adventures than merely dipping with chips. For
example, when you think of condiments, what comes come to mind? Catsup,
mustard and relish have been the staple burger and hot dog sauces in American
culture for a very long time; but salsa replaced catsup as America’s
leading condiment in the early 1990s.
A red and green bowl of salsa can be found on every party table, thank
goodness. Not only does it add a bit--or a lot--of spiciness to your food,
there are also health benefits to eating it. The fact that the best salsa
is based on these fresh ingredients ensures that it is going to be a nutritious topping:
Tomatoes. Tomato is the foundation of practically all salsa. The vitamin C, potassium,
fiber and choline found in tomatoes all support a healthy heart. Moreover,
the benefits of consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables of all kinds,
including tomatoes, are unavoidable. As your plant-based food consumption
goes up, the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes goes down.
Onions. A member of the lily family, although with a definitely different smell,
onions lavish you with nutritional benefits while adding tons of taste.
These fragrant bulbs contain chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar.
Salsa made with the tops of green onions furnishes vitamin A. And onions
have been valued for hundreds of years for their anti-inflammatory and
Cilantro. Heavily employed in traditional salsa recipes, leafy cilantro is rich
in many essential vitamins, including riboflavin, folic acid, niacin,
beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Peppers. While both hot and sweet peppers may add a kick to your food, they will
also help you in your weight loss efforts. Research has demonstrated that
capsaicin – the substance that gives peppers and chiles their heat--also
boosts your metabolism, keeping "immature" fat cells from morphing
into full-fledged fat. Capsaicinoids in chile peppers can protect against
the build-up of unhealthy cholesterol in your bloodstream. And the endorphins
released when eating hot chiles may help to counter depression, relieve
pain, and promote a feeling a well-being.
While fresh salsa always makes for a quick dip or a convenient condiment,
it can add healthy spiciness to any number of foods besides tacos and
burritos. You might choose to forego a fat-laden creamy salad dressing
and instead use fat-free salsa to top your salad; garnish it with a bit
of grilled corn and some black beans for a southwestern accent. At breakfast,
stir bright green salsa verde into the pan with scrambled eggs or add
it as a topping to an omelet or frittata. Or you can pour it onto a baked
potato with fat-free plain Greek yogurt as a substitute for butter and
The uses for salsa are nearly endless, and a whole line of tomato-less
salsas can be found that are made with fruits for those who prefer more
sweet and less heat. So skip the chips and experiment with incorporating
some kind of salsa into all of your favorite foods. Let your imagination
run wild with some delicious salsas that are as colorful as their names--salsa
roja, pico de gallo, salsa verde, mango salsa, chipotle salsa and more.
Your palate and your waistline will thank you.
What kinds of food do you love to top with salsa? Share a comment below.