Friday, February 15, 2013

Mango and Black Bean Salsa and Fresh Baked Tortilla Chips

My name is Alester and I'm an addict.

Specifically, I'm a snackaholic.

Seriously, I could survive on snack foods. I used to have a fantasy about owning my own 1950s style diner that only served finger foods. I rarely make a real meal with multiple dishes and sit down to eat at the table. What guy who lives alone and cooks for himself does? Instead, I usually make mini snack dishes and eat those throughout the day. The challenge, of course, is making sure they are healthy foods and also making sure that I'm not grazing and mindlessly eating too many calories. Today I'm going to help you tackle those challenges by making fresh mango and black bean salsa and baked tortilla chips.

I love salsa. LOVE salsa. I will eat a jar in a sitting. The problem is that one serving of most commercial salsas (2 tbsp, which is not a serving. I'm sorry. That's a lie. 2 tbsp is a nibble not a serving!) has anywhere from 50mg of sodium for a fresh salsa like you might find in the deli fridge to 300mg in some of the jars you'll find on the shelf. That's just too much! The good news is that it's easy to make your own!

Supplies you'll need:
  • A good chopping knife, paring knife, cutting board, and some measuring cups and spoons
  • Food processor
  • A small electric food chopper is helpful, but not needed
  • one can of no salt added diced tomatoes--drained (Of course you can use fresh tomatoes, and that's preferred, but it's the dead of winter here in Chicagoland and canned is a better option right now. Once summer comes I'll be making this with heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market. i can't wait!)
  • one can of no salt added black beans--drained and rinsed
  • one cup of frozen or fresh corn--I like the Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Frozen Corn
  • 1/4 of one large white onion diced
  • one bell pepper with the core and seeds removed and cut into medium sized pieces
  • juice of one lemon (about 2 fl oz)
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic minced (use fresh garlic--the flavor is better and it's much better for you)
  • two jalapeno peppers minced (you may remove the core and seeds for a mild salsa, but this salsa is not especially hot)
  • one mango cut into medium sized pieces (cut around the pit and remove the skin)
  • 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar

  • If you have a small food chopper, add garlic, diced jalapenos and the cilantro and chop into very fine pieces and set aside. If you don't have a chopper you will want to dice them by hand, but make sure they are cut into very small pieces
  • Add tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and mango to the food processor and pulse several times until nearly all of the medium sized pieces have been chopped into small pieces. Don't overdo it--you don't want to end up with a puree, grandma!
  • Add the garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers to the food processor along with the juice of one lemon and two tbsp of red wine vinegar and pulse two more times to mix the remaining ingredients. (You COULD add some salt at this point if you think you need it. I don't.)
  • Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the corn and black beans
  • Spoon the salsa into airtight containers and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop and mix before serving with fresh chips or using in your favorite recipe. 

Ok, seriously, this recipe couldn't be much easier, and it's also amazingly good for you. If you would prefer a more traditional salsa, you can adapt this recipe by adding a second can of tomatoes and another 1/4 of the the onion in place of the mango. You can also make it hotter by adding more jalapeno peppers, and can substitute pineapple or peaches for the mango. Easy Peasy!

Yield about 1 quart (8 cups) of fresh salsa

Nutritional Information (based on 16 half-cup servings--a much more realistic "serving" if you ask me!)
  • Calories 52.7
  • Total Fat .2g
  • Saturated Fat 0
  • Cholesterol 0
  • Trans Fat 0
  • Cholesterol 0
  • Sodium 14.7mg
  • Potassium 227.6mg
  • Total Carbs 11g
  • Dietary Fiber 3.1g
  • Sugars 4.4g
  • Vitamin A 9.6% RDA
  • Vitamin C 19% RDA
  • Calcium 1.5% RDA
  • Iron 3% RDA
The only problem you have left in the world at this point (provided you're not falling in love with me and my healthy snacks from the computer station of your prison's library) is that you have no healthy salsa delivery system. Relax, baby. I got you covered. We'll just make some fresh baked tortilla chips!

Again, the problem with commercial tortilla chips is that they are loaded with fat and salt. Now, you can go ahead and buy a bag of baked tortilla chips, but you're still getting added salt and preservatives. You're also spending extra money you don't need to for an inferior salsa delivery system. I like to make these chips one batch at a time so they are hot and fresh when I eat them and there's only a limited quantity available so that I don't go overboard and eat the whole damned bag! Once you see how easy it is to make fresh baked chips that taste amazing hot out of the oven you will want to beat yourself with your own Uggs for not making them sooner!

Supplies you'll need:
  • A large knife and cutting board
  • A cookie sheet
  • An oven

  • Corn tortillas (I really like the El Milagro Blancas tortillas because they have no added oil or salt and they tend to curl up at the edges which I think is really great for some reason!)

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I like to leave the cookie sheet in the oven while it preheats so that the tortillas go down on the hot surface.
  • Cut the tortillas into quarters and space the chips in a single layer on the baking sheet. 

  • Bake for 8-10 minutes
  • Remove the chips using a pancake turner or tongs and place them in a bowl to cool for a few minutes and enjoy them with your favorite dip or with the fresh mango and black bean salsa you made earlier. 

Yields 16 large chips

Nutritional Information (for 16 chips using El Milagro Blancas Tortillas)

  • Calories 200
  • Total Fat 2g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Sodium 0mg
  • Potassium 0mg
  • Total Carbs 40g
  • Dietary Fiber 4g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 4g
  • Vitamin A 8% RDA
  • Vitamin C 8% RDA
  • Calcium 8% RDA
  • Iron 8% RDA

Now, for a side-by-side comparison to Baked Tostitos. . . With this recipe you're getting 16 large chips rather than 14 scoops, but you're actually getting twice the amount of food. One serving of Scoops is 28g and the baked weight of these chips is 66g! In addition, you get one fewer grams of fat (2g versus 3g), no saturated fat ( 0 versus .5g), no sodium (0 versus 125mg), twice the Dietary Fiber, twice the protein, four times as much iron, and you're also getting Calcium and Vitamins A and C (the Scoops have nothing to offer for those three). Yes, these have 80 more calories, but those calories are well spent for double the amount of food and so much better nutrition! Plus, I promise you, fresh baked tortilla chips taste amazing and they're guilt-free just like the fresh salsa!

And, did I mention it's cheaper to make your own chips? One package of El Milagro Blancas Tortillas cost me $1.09 at the market this morning. They weren't on sale--that's just what they cost. That's more than 2 lbs of tortillas for $1.09, and a 10oz bag of Scoops is about $4! Sure, the baked tortillas will weigh less, but you consider you're getting 9 servings of chips out of a package of tortillas at a cost of less than 13 cents per serving versus 9 servings in a bag of Scoops at about 45 cents per serving (and remember our serving size is twice theirs!). Bonus:  NONE of your chips will be broken into a crumbly mess at the bottom of the bag!


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