Monday, September 29, 2008
3 Simple, Healthy Meals, Part 2: Salsa & Chips Done Right!
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!
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. (If you are looking for a tortilla chip that's lower in fat, there are many, many choices. You could also try "Snyder's of Hanover White Corn Tortilla Chips," with 40% Less Fat, which has 110 miligrams of sodium & 4.5 grams of fat per serving, i.e., about 13 chips. This product is very tasty, although not as nutrient-filled. Or, there's also the baked tortilla chip route, although I personally find this type of chip rather bland & dry, & thus hard to get down the gullet. I personally prefer a more pleasurable eating experience. ;-) )
And now, without further ado, here's my very own original recipe for homemade salsa:
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.)
Cooked corn kernels, tomatillo, cucumber, black beans, avocado, red &/or green bell pepper, radishes, jicama, mango, mint, basil, parsley.
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?!
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.
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-)