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Simple, Healthy Meals, Part 2: Salsa & Chips Done Right!

Posted Sep 29 2008 4:13pm
This is the second installment of the series, "Simple, Healthy Meals" which I created to help people -- whether they be runners, athletes, or aspiring exercisers/healthy-eaters -- plan tasty & practical meals, to fuel their bodies & satisfy their taste buds.

After you're done reading this &/or have tried the below recipe & suggestions, please let me know what you think! Thanks & enjoy!

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Salsa and Chips Done Right


A photo of the yummilicious salsa I made last night for dinner.

I'm a big believer in using fresh ingredients -- especially when it comes to fruits, vegetables, dairy & meat products, & spices -- & strive to incorporate them into my recipes/cooking/food preparation whenever possible. At the same time, I think there's a good case for using manufactured, pre-packaged ingredients in certain cases, particularly in the case of truly healthy & delicious whole grain-based products.

After all, this series is called "Simple & Healthy Meals," & not "Elaborate & Overly Complex Recipes by Martha Stewart, Who is Secretly Trying to Sabotage Your Feelings of Self Worth in the Kitchen & Make Your Life a Living Hell." ;-)

So, this is why, in the interests of time & practicality, I'll be giving you my original recipe for fresh, homemade salsa, & not for the tortilla chips. ;-)

If you'd rather spend the extra time slaving over a hot oven to make homemade tortilla chips to accompany your salsa, I'll leave that decision up to you. [There are in fact a few healthy recipes for tortilla chips (Yes, they really do exist out there in Recipeland!), should you choose this option.] However, I -- and the rest of my savvy & very busy time-saving readers -- will be using the store-bought version & will save our tortilla-chip making for a rainy, Sunday afternoon, when we've got nothing else better to do. ;-)

Of course, the secret to "Salsa & Chips Done Right" is not just in using fresh ingredients for the salsa, but in finding that perfect store-bought tortilla chip, which has the proper balance of nutrition & freshness, but doesn't sacrifice on taste. And, I think I just might've found that perfect chip.

Now, having said that, before I reveal my idea of the "perfect Tortilla chip" please note that this chip is not salt- or fat-free.

There are 50 milligrams of sodium & 7 grams of fat (of which only 1 gram is saturated fat) per 1-ounce serving, which according to the package, is defined as "7 chips." And relatively-speaking, this is a lot less than salt & fat than your average tortilla chip, which hovers in the realm of 110-200 miligrams of sodium & 8-10 grams of fat per serving.

These chips are made of all-natural, organic ingredients & contains over 500 miligrams of Omega-3s per serving! It's wheat & gluten-free, has zero trans fats, & is a fairly decent source of fiber.

So I won't keep you in suspense any longer. (Drum roll please..... ;-) ) This amazing little wonder of a tortilla chip is known as R.W. Garcia Special Recipe Flax (Flaxseed w/Soy) Tortilla Chip. It has a nutty flavor & just the right amount of sea salt. And no, I'm not being paid to endorse this product! ;-)

Anyhow, that's my recommendation for a great tortilla chip with which to pair this salsa, but of course, feel free to do whatever you like.

And now, without further ado, here's my very own original recipe for homemade salsa:

This little chili ended up in last night's salsa. Growing your own chilis is fun & easy!

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped into quarter inch pieces
3-4 small red chilis (Adjust for heat preference. If you don't have fresh, you can use dried, but reduce amount to half. Dried red chilis tend to be much more potent & concentrated than fresh. I grow my own miniature red chilis & use these in salsa, as they have medium heat, as opposed to green/serrano peppers, which are larger & typically have more heat.)
1/4 large sweet yellow onion, diced
cilantro (If using fresh, use about 1/4 of a bunch, chopped. If using dried, use about 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
juice of 1 lime (If you don't have limes, you can use a lemon instead.)
1/2 tsp salt (Sea salt or coarse kosher rock salt are best, but table salt will certainly do.)

Optional ingredients:
Cooked corn kernels, tomatillo, cucumber, black beans, avocado, red &/or green bell pepper, radishes, jicama, mango, mint, basil, parsley.

Directions:
After you've chopped up all the produce & seasoned the mixture with lime/lemon juice & salt, mix thoroughly & refrigerate. It's important to let the citrus juice marinate the other ingredients for atleast 5-10 minutes before consuming, so that the onions & chilis don't overpower the salsa. Marinating mellows the stronger flavors, & will even out the flavor balance. Serve with tortilla chips, & "Ta da!", that's it! Now how easy is that?!

Chef's Notes:
If you're serving this as a snack, you can simply serve the salsa with chips. If you'd like to make the dish a bit more interesting, you can add sides of chopped olives, low-fat or fat-free sour cream, &/or guacamole, for you & your guests/family members/friends to mix & match as they please. Or, if you plan to eat this dish as a main course, you might want to add some protein: Just melt a sprinkling of low-fat Mexican cheese blend on top of the chips.

If you are looking for some healthy dessert suggestions, please check out my recipe site/blog.

Enjoy!
-C

P.S. I've also got a great guacamole recipe, which I'm considering posting as well. Avocado, when consumed in moderate amounts, can be very good for you! It's an excellent source of vitamins & minerals, & the monounsaturated fats it contains not only create a feeling of satiety, but also help speed up one's BMR. So bravo for the avocado! 8-)

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