Snack Attack: Chemical-Free, Honest Salsa

Last week at this time, I was at the beach on vacation. If I had to guess, at this time last week I was probably frolicking down the beach with Ricky drinking a margarita. Don’t worry, Stevie was safe and sound sleeping back at the beach house with my mom and stepdad home. That was last week. Now, Ricky and I are having a small feud over the stupidest of things (per usual of our fights). No worries people; it is a silly little fight, and I am not afraid to admit that as a couple we fight sporadically. It’s all part of life and relationships! To make matters worse, I have to clean up the kitchen after Stevie made an outrageous mess from eating dinner. As a kind gesture, Ricky is putting Stevie to bed. So, instead of cleaning at the moment, I have decided to just take a moment to relax, sip on a glass of wine on my deck, and reminisce of days from last week that were spent carefree at the beach. Don’t judge me; mom needs a moment to herself sometimes. When I think back to the beach, one of the things that comes to mind is the amount of glorious food that I consumed. It was vacation, so that was my whole mantra while there. “Oh, a fried seafood platter? Sure! It is vacation.” Yes, I did splurge here and there in the name of vacation. However, I still kept true to my values of clean eating in most ways. For instance, I made a ton of honest, homemade snacks from nothing but real, whole foods!

As I have been my whole life, I am a snack addict. I have never been one for desserts or sweets, but when it comes to chips and dip or crackers or cheese, I will tackle someone to get to it. Okay, that may or may not be an exaggeration, but you get the point.  I freaking LOVE snacks. Contrary to what many may believe, just because I am one for clean eating doesn’t mean I cut snacks out of my life completely. All it means is that I have adapted the type of snacks I eat; I still eat just as many as I always have but just changed up what I eat. For instance, as a younger human, I used to have an obsession with Pizza Rolls. Yes, those overly processed pockets filled with unpronounceable ingredients which were the culprit of many burns to one’s mouth who just could not wait one second to eat them after they were taken out of the oven. These days, I cannot even fathom eating those things. There was actually one night years ago on which I may have had a few drinks and thought I wanted to buy them. I stood in the middle of the frozen food aisle (the aisle of all evil) debating whether or not I should just get the darn Pizza Rolls. All I had to do was look at the ingredients list to remind myself why I do not eat snacks like that anymore. They have over FIFTY ingredients in them. Shouldn’t the ingredients just be dough, cheese, sauce, spices, and maybe pepperoni? WHAT IS ALL THAT OTHER STUFF??? Gross! If you start checking the ingredients in some of your favorite snacks, I think that will be a question you will find yourself asking a shocking amount. What are all of those extra ingredients that you cannot pronounce and sound like metals and chemicals? Sadly, this is not just in snack foods, but that is another story. Let’s focus on snacking.

So, what is there to snack on that still fulfills your snacking desires in a clean eating way?  Some of my friends have even asked me to share with them the types of snack foods I look for or buy when I go grocery shopping. I promise it is extremely easy to stay away from the chemical, additive-ridden, mystery ingredient snack foods and still snack like a crazy lady when feeling the urge. For example, one of my favorite snacks is hummus and cucumber slices. I usually buy Trader Joe’s organic hummus. It is legit one of the best out there; I have bought a ton and nothing compares to it (sung to the tune of Sinead O’Connor – if you are as old as I am, you will get the reference). It is pretty common for me to eat an entire cucumber in one sitting. At one point, I usually think, “Oh shit, I just ate that entire cucumber.” Then I remember it’s just a cucumber, vastly different from eating an entire bag of chips, and everything is okay. Don’t get me wrong, there are some snacks that you cannot avoid being a little overindulgent. One of those snacks that I have a bit of an addiction to is chips and salsa. Am I talking about a jar of salsa? NO WAY! If I have any advice for you regarding any type of food, it would be the following: STEP AWAY FROM THE JAR! When it comes to salsa, it is far too easy to make to even think you need to resort to the jar stuff. Not only is it easy to make, but homemade salsa is entirely better for you than the jar pre-made stuff! Before we get to the recipe for my favorite, delicious salsa, let me go on a bit of a tangent quick.

Salsa. It seems to be one of the harmless snacks, right? Yes, it can be! However, let us take a look at the ingredients of one of the most popular brands of salsa which I will leave anonymous:

Ingredients: Tomato puree (water and tomato paste), diced tomatoes in tomato juice (contains calcium chloride, citric acid), jalapeño peppers, onions, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, natural flavor.

You may think those ingredients seem fairly harmless. However, I see a couple of inorganic chemicals listed as well as an extremely ambiguous ingredient. That extremely ambiguous ingredient is “natural flavor.” What the hell does that even mean? If you take a look at your snack food labels or just food labels in general, natural flavor is an ingredient that always seems to sneak its way in right at the very end of the list. It is almost inevitable that your ingredient list will include natural flavor when eating typical foods found in the grocery store. To me, natural flavor has always been a puzzling ingredient simply because if it is so “natural”, why wouldn’t they just list those natural ingredients from which the flavor is coming? You know what I mean? Why not just list the so-called “natural” ingredients rather than just listing them under this odd, umbrella term that leaves the average person wondering what exactly is in the food their eating. The answer is quite easy; the flavor is not coming from anything in its natural state! So, what exactly is this nuisance ingredient then? It is a chemical that was once derived from a naturally occurring source. If you would like to have a more in-depth description, click on the link I just provided. To put it simply though, it is a chemical that they can list as a natural ingredient because at one time they created the chemical from a natural source. That time was in the past – it is no longer sourced from a natural entity. A good question to ask is if it ever really was. Something that is quite alarming is that the flavor enhancer, tastebud-tricking ingredient MSG ( you can find more from me on the MSG subject here) actually can fall under the ingredient “natural flavor.” Yes, most of the time if you see natural flavor listed as an ingredient it means there is MSG in that product. Once I found this out, I became obsessed with checking food labels. Of course, I became enraged when I realized how often these devious “natural flavors” showed up on ingredient lists. This is just one of the many reasons I switched to strictly buying organic foods. More times than not, if you look at the label of organic foods, i.e. salsas, they will not have natural flavor listed as an ingredient. Even more so, it is one of the many reasons that I started making my own snacks. There is nothing as tasty as homemade! This in turn leads me to the recipe for this salsa I am about to share with you.

This recipe was actually shared with me by Ricky’s mom who got it from Ricky’s sister-in-law. I made it once, and I was absolutely hooked! There have been times where I stood in my kitchen eating this directly out of the container I stored it in and had to legit yell at myself to step away before I ate an entire bag of chips. Isn’t that what snacking is all about though? You can’t put it down because it is simply that good! However, this time it is not addicting because of the added chemicals that send distorted messages from your tastebuds to your brain but because it is literally that tasty. Please do not shy away from this because you think it is a hassle, and you can always just go buy a jar. Remember, STEP AWAY FROM THE JAR. When you make your own snacks homemade, you know exactly what is going into your body. I mean, if someone offered you two salsas and told you one came from a jar and the other was fresh, homemade salsa, would you really choose the jar? I think not. The only difference is you have to take 10 minutes to make your own. Look, I am not trying to offend anyone. I am sure you have your favorite go-to jar of salsa, and there is nothing wrong with that. All I am saying is if you are looking to cut out random, questionable ingredients from your foods, the answer is to make most of your foods homemade! Added bonus, it tastes 100 times better, too! I am not just saying this either. I recently made this salsa for my friend’s daughter’s birthday party, and I dropped it off the night before so she could have it when setting up the food spread. The night I dropped it off I received a text saying that her and her guy snuck some salsa and they couldn’t stop eating. I believe she said her guy’s exact words were, “That cilantro though!” Just wanted to show you that I am not lying about the tastiness of this salsa. You can’t always just take my word for it, right?

A super bee-friendly, eco-friendly, added bonus: Almost all of the ingredients in this salsa can be grown in your own backyard!! If you aren’t into gardening, you can at least go to your local farmer’s market to grab most of these ingredients. Help to save the bees and the planet one batch of salsa at a time!

Chemical-Free, Honest Salsa

Servings: 15 – 20 (AKA: it makes a lot!)

Ingredients

About 10 ripened tomatoes (or 2 cans diced tomatoes)

1 can (4 oz) green chiles

1 jalapeño (without seeds for less spice if you prefer)

1/2 medium red onion

2 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1 lime

2-3 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

  1. Put tomatoes in food processor and pulse until puréed. Pour tomatoes into medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Place all other ingredients in food processor and pulse until puréed. Pour these ingredients into the tomatoes in mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Be sure to mix well.
  3. Cover salsa and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This allows all of the flavors to blend together perfectly! After it is has been refrigerated for enough time, enjoy with organic corn tortilla chips! Yes, organic. Corn is one of the main GMO-crops with the glyphosate-riddled crops, remember?

 

Salsa
I just want to swim around in there!

That’s it! It is almost as easy as opening a jar and is definitely worth the extra effort. Just by putting in that little extra effort, you are making your body happier by putting pure, whole foods into it, you are helping to save the bees by using bee-friendly ingredients, and you are helping the environment by using ingredients that can be grown in your own backyard or you can get from your local farmer’s market free of the pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to your body and to our planet. Wow! All of that from a snack food? Score! Give it a try and let me know what you think! As always, I welcome your feedback. I would love to hear what you guys think! Enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Honest Food,

Sasha

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