Salsa's a Vegetable

Salsa is a vegetable! It's true. Made with all sorts of wonderful things like tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro and parsley, salsa is packed with vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber, and the disease fighting antioxidant lycopene.  Every half cup that you eat counts toward the minimum of 5 fruits and veggies you need everyday. The only problem comes with what we dip into the salsa. Be careful when you're eating regular tortilla chips, since they're loaded with fat calories, and we can munch a bunch of calories very quickly. Baked chips are a good possibility. Veggies such as raw broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower would make really healthy dippers.  If you have the time, I highly recommend making your own chips. They are so good, and so much better for you.  Marcia asked for my favorite baked tortilla chip recipe, so here it is:

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

*Soft Corn Tortillas (4-6")
     cut into 6 pie shaped wedges
Spray with Cooking Spray
Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired (sea salt works great, since you can use less to get the salt taste)

Bake for 8 minutes. Turn over.  Bake another 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.
Serve and enjoy!

*Trader Joe's has really good corn tortillas with no preservatives at all.  Just be sure to store them in the freezer if you aren't going to use them quickly.

Have it your way. Have fun trying out a variety of salsas and experiment with using them.  Try salsa verde (green tomato salsa,) corn salsa, black bean salsa, fruit salsas...there are just so many out there.  Salsa is great on top of a couple of scrambled eggs or as a dipping side for a grilled cheese on whole wheat sandwich. Marinade chicken, pork loin, or lean beef cuts with salsa or a blend of salsa and light Italian dressing before you grill.  It's great!

Try Some Salsa Twists...

Corn and Black Bean Salsa:

1 cup of your favorite salsa
1/4 cup corn, drained
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

Spicy Refried Beans:

1 cup fat-free refried beans (black are my favorite)
1/4 - 1/3 cup salsa

Mix together.  Serve hot.

Black Bean Soup:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
*Salsa (fill bean can with salsa)

Heat until hot.  Top with a dollop of light sour cream, diced cilantro, diced fresh tomatoes, and a light sprinkle of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese.

*Use milder salsa for this unless you really love spicy food---this one really zips.  If you want really mild soup, fill half the can with canned tomatoes, then the other half with salsa.

What are your favorite salsa recipes?  Favorite salsas? Let us know!

Remember:  Salsa as a dip is a 5 star nutritional powerhouse,  just watch what you dip in!

To your health!