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Fresh Salsa (plus the health benefits)

California has been incredibly hot during the past few weeks, and I’ve been finding super ripe and delicious tomatoes at our local farmers’ markets, so fresh salsa has had a regular place on my table.

Here are a few I’ve whipped up.

Multicolored cherry tomatoes, avocado, onion, lime juice.

 

Red and yellow bell pepper, onion, lime juice.

 

Practically guacamole, but what I am calling salsa – avocado, tomato, green bell pepper, lime juice, CA chili flakes, parsley (’cause cilantro is not my thing).

 

As you can see, strict recipes don’t exist in my world. When you use with fresh ingredients that taste good on their own, it’s hard to mess up fresh salsa. I just taste as I go along. But, for those of you who would like a little more guidance, check out the following recipe.

Fresh Tomato-Avocado Salsa with Minced Radish

Start with really good tomatoes. (Did I say that enough yet?) Shop at your farmers’ market, where the tomatoes have been picked that day and have not been refrigerated. Many chefs believe the flavor of tomatoes wanes when you stash ’em in the fridge. Whether or not this is true, what you get at your local farmers’ market is more likely to be picked fresh than what you get at the grocery store (read: tasteless tomatoes that have been bred to withstand a 2,000 mile haul rather than being bred for impeccable flavor. We do happen to have proof on that allegation.)

The above tomatoes are imperfectly beautiful and incredibly flavorful, both hallmarks of heirloom varieties. Don’t even bother making salsa if you’re starting with bad tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium heirloom tomato, chopped (use a super sharp knife, it doesn’t smush)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced finely
  • 4 radishes, minced finely (albeit completely nontraditional, these add crunch and bit of zip)
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced finely (optional, if you want some heat)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • dash CA chili flakes (these vary from mild to medium heat, so taste test as you go)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything up and enjoy!

Health benefits 

Below is a list of some of the active compounds in fresh salsa (Once cooked, many of these compounds are destroyed with the exception of lycopene, which is more bioavailable in cooked tomatoes). Some of these compounds have been studied for their potential in reducing inflammation and preventing chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Tomato: carotenoids, lycopene, vitamin C, potassium, bioflavonoids, quercitin

Avocado: vitamin E, monounsaturated fat, vitamin B6, folate, lutein, beta-sitosterol, glutathione

Onion: sulfur compounds, polyphenols, quercitin

Bell pepper: vitamin C, vitamin E, a variety of carotenoids, vitamin B6, folate

Lime juice: vitamin C, flavonoids, limonin

 

Fresh salsa is a delicious treat with real health benefits. Be creative with what you find from your local farms and enjoy!

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

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