Salsa is one of the best creations of all foods in my book. Really, what can’t this healthy dip/condiment (whatever you want to call it), do? It’s not just tasty, but also nutritious! Rich in the antioxidant lycopene (related to cancer prevention) from tomatoes, Vitamin C from peppers, detoxifying and metabolism-boosting onions, and let’s not forget the immune-boosting garlic and lime in there too. Some cheap salsas at the store are made with distilled vinegar – not the best option, but something that still provides that zippy taste. If you can, choose one made with raw apple cider vinegar, which won’t just be healthier, but also taste better too. Many organic brands now use apple cider vinegar instead of distilled, but read labels to verify. Even better, if you get the chance to make your own salsa, try that too.
Whatever salsa you go with, store bought or homemade, don’t limit this mighty dip to chips – please, please, please – just don’t. It’s so much more versatile than that. One trick to use salsa is to mix it with different things to create healthy spreads, dips and dressings. We all know the key to spicing up a bad recipe (that we just knew would be magnificent) is to add some sort of condiment to “jazz” it up. I remember as a child, ketchup was my vice. I used to hate broccoli and peas, so yes, (shamefully), I’d cover them with ketchup because I loved it so much. While that’s not the case anymore, the point is, that condiments can take a dish from drab to fab in seconds and make them more palatable (as strange as the combinations might be).
Here’s how to use salsa to spice up your dishes and actually do it healthfully too …
1. Dairy-Free Salsa Con Queso
If you’ve ever had the traditional (incredibly delicious) dip at Mexican restaurants known as Salsa Con Queso (meaning, salsa with cheese), you know how addicting this dip is. Creamy, spicy – just perfect. The store bought versions are just as equally addicting, making it easy to go through just a can in a couple days (or umm … a few hours??). What’s not so great about the traditional recipe, is what’s actually in it. Dairy filled cheese and milk, not to mention sugar and possibly MSG with way too much sodium. You can make a healthier dip at home, all very easily. Just mix a cup of healthy salsa with 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a little non-dairy milk, and give it all a good spin in the food processor or blender. To make it thicker, use more nutritional yeast or less salsa and adjust the amounts until you get the right dosage of flavor for you. Use this on pita chips, raw or roasted veggies, use it as a spread for healthy pizza, as a salad dressing, or even on a sandwich if you want.
2. Hot Mustard Dip or Dressing
Mustard is one of the other miracle creations in the world of condiments, in my book. If you want to really take yours up a notch, then add some salsa to your favorite mustard and give it a spin in the food processor. No fat, low calorie, and so tasty, this condiment blend will make any dish extraordinary. Since many southern BBQ sauces are made with just ketchup and mustard blended together, this is one healthy hack I love using in place of sugary ketchup or sugary BBQ sauce. Mix equal parts salsa with equal parts mustard, blend or puree together, or just mix with a spoon. This is a great example of an oil-free, dairy-free salad dressing that would enhance the flavor of just about anything you put it on.
3. Homemade Hot Sauce Spread or Dressing
If love you hot sauce, (I’m talking to you sriracha fans!), blend a little salsa with your favorite hot sauce for a vamped up, homemade “super” hot sauce. If you don’t use processed hot sauce, blend salsa with some red pepper flakes instead. Since hot sauce is basically peppers, vinegar and sugar, this is a healthier way to make your own at home with no refined sugar. (Just be sure to buy a brand that doesn’t have added sugars listed in the ingredient list.) You can also try this yummy raw hot sauce instead.
4. Salsa Pesto Spread
While not something you might think of when you imagine the green pesto dip you’re used to, this easy spread is healthy and delicious! Take your favorite cheese-free pesto and mix equal parts salsa with equal parts pesto. It’s rich, flavorful, and can be used on any sandwich, salad, or stirred into an entree of choice.
5. Salsa Miso Dip
YUMMY – this is all that can describe this dip – and it’s so easy! Just blend your favorite salsa with a little miso (preferably an organic one since this fermented food is important to buy healthfully) and you’ve got yourself a flavorful, probiotic-rich dip that adds an incredible zing to any meal. This is a great place in choice of fatty condiments that might upset digestion, or for when you’re feeling rundown. The nutrients in the salsa and the probiotics in the miso can help you recover quickly. It can be added to soup easily, or used however your creativity sparks you to do so.
Of course, let’s not forget the best way to use salsa- as a chip dip! Make these flax crackers or kale chips, or use a flour-free cracker like Mary’s Gone Crackers instead. Dip these healthier options in your salsa spreads and dips for a guilt-free vegan treat, or even a light lunch with some veggies added.
What’s your favorite way to use salsa? Have a healthy recipe? Share it!
Lead Image Source: Ruth Hartnup/Flickr