Healthy Satisfying Salsa
Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce and can be cooked or uncooked. Like ketchup, tomato is the base of salsa.
Aztec lords combine tomatoes with chiles and ground squash seeds and consume them mainly as a condiment with seafood, turkey and venison. This combination is called salsa in 1571 by Alonso de Molina, a Spanish priest and missionary.
Salsa verde is an early salsa made not from the tomato but from the tomatillo, a member of the same family as the tomato (the Nightshades) but closer in relation to the cape gooseberry. Tomatillos are also know as Mexican Green Tomatoes. They look like smaller green tomatoes with a paper-like skin, similar to ones found on onions.
Traditional bottled salsas contain tomatoes, onions, spices and herbs such as cilantro. Fresh ingredients for salsa are grown in the U.S., further promoting its health benefits.
In 1991, salsa overtook ketchup as the top-selling condiment in the U.S. By 2000, we bought more salsa than ketchup. We now use salsa as a condiment almost any place we put ketchup: Burgers, baked potatoes, eggs, etc.
From a nutritionists view, that's good. Salsa generally has no sugar (except for fruit salsas, which typically have no added sugar). Salsa is low in calories and contains little to no fat. Tomatoes, chiles and cilantro contain vitamins A and C; tomatoes also have potassium. Salsa is a good source of iron and fiber, as well as magnesium and potassium to help maintain normal blood pressure.
The tomatoes used in salsa are rich in heart healthy lycopenes. These carotenoids are being studied for their role in preventing various types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer as well as heart disease prevention. Cooked, processed tomatoes are the best source of lycopenes.
Salsa can also help us meet the goal of working more fruits and vegetables into a healthful diet. The only caveat nutritionally speaking is sodium - commercial salsa contains from 90 to 270 milligrams (mg) of sodium in just two tablespoons. That is half the sodium of ketchup, though. Home made salsa will have less sodium because you needn't add any salt for flavor.
Most salsa recipes are a mixture of low acid foods, such as onions and peppers, with acid foods such as tomatoes. Fruit salsas have also become quite popular - and are also very healthful.
The type of tomato you use often affects the quality of salsas. Paste tomatoes, such as Roma, have firmer flesh and produce thicker salsas than large slicing tomatoes. Although both types make good salsas, slicing tomatoes usually yield a thinner, more watery salsa than paste tomatoes.
Tomatillos do not need to be peeled or seeded, but the dry outer husk must be removed.
Where recipes call for peeled or seeded tomatoes, remove the skin by dipping tomatoes into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split. Dip in cold water, then slip off skins and remove cores and seeds.
Spices and herbs add flavoring to salsas. The amount of spices and herbs may be altered in salsa recipes.
Salsa is a great addition to your summertime barbecues and picnics - enjoy it guilt free!
Cook eight ounces spaghetti according to directions but without using oil; drain. Return to pot and add 1-tablespoon olive oil. Add one jar (24 ounces) mild thick and chunky salsa, one can (15 ounces) rinsed and drained black beans, salt and pepper to taste. Heat five minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately and garnish with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with suggestions: lettuce salad and Italian bread.
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