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Experiment with different types of salsa in your diet.
Americans eat more salsa than ketchup, reports Bloomberg Businessweek, with salsa sales in the United States topping $760 million annually compared to ketchup's $480 million. Named for the Spanish word for sauce, traditional salsa is a naturally low-fat, low-calorie combination of raw or cooked chili peppers, tomatoes and seasonings, though modern manifestations can include anything from avocados to beans to fruit. If you're on a diet, salsa can be your new best friend, a way to boost nutrient and produce intake while adding flavor to meals. Steer clear of commercially produced salsas, which can be high in sodium.
A 2013 study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reported that subjects who ate a protein-rich breakfast were less likely to eat high-fat and high-sugar snacks later in the day. Eggs are a natural breakfast choice, and the Harvard School of Public Health says one a day can be part of a healthy diet, especially when eaten with a nutritious partner like salsa. Try an egg poached in salsa, served with whole-grain tortillas, or mix salsa into scrambled egg whites and eat on top of whole-wheat toast. For a quick, high-protein breakfast burrito, spread cooked beans on a tortilla and spoon on some salsa. Add mashed avocado in place of cheese to boost your intake of monounsaturated fat while lowering your consumption of saturated fat.
Tacos, enchiladas and burritos may be the sort of standard lunchtime fare you think of as a partner for salsa, but they can often be full of diet-sabotaging fat and calories. Instead, dilute salsa with chicken or vegetable stock and add chopped cucumbers and herbs like cilantro to make a quick gazpacho. For an easily portable lunch, mix cold cooked grains such as brown rice, couscous or bulgur with salsa and leftover lean meat, chicken or fish to create a filling salad. On cold days, use salsa as a stuffing for baked potatoes or eggplant halves.
The American Institute for Cancer Research vice president Jeff Prince advises using salsa as a substitute for the high-fat sauces often served on broiled, grilled or sauteed beef, poultry or seafood. Experiment with different flavor combinations, such as salsa prepared from tomatillos with broiled lean steak, or a salsa based on fresh fruit for grilled fish. Lighten up a main-dish salad of greens, vegetables and slices of cooked meat by using salsa in place of salad dressing. You can also create Mexican-themed pizzas by spreading salsa instead of tomato sauce on a whole-wheat pizza crust, then topping it with fresh spinach, onions, jalapenos, olives and crumbled queso fresco.
Salsa and chips may seem like a match made in snack heaven, but eat more than the suggested handful and the calories and sodium add up fast. Turn salsa into a nutritious and filling snack-time treat that won't sink your diet by mixing it into low- or no-fat sour cream or cottage cheese. Serve the dip with a platter of fresh vegetables. If you've got to have chips with your dip, go for baked tortilla chips or make your own whole-wheat pita chips. Brush the pitas with some olive oil, cut them into wedges and bake until crisp.