The new year is fast approaching! If you plan to eat healthier or lose weight this year, it’s the best time to remember that small changes can and do really add up to big differences over the year. With that in mind, I wanted to share something tasty with you to help kick-start your healthful eating efforts.
The Recipe Redux task for the month was to “grab a book and cook.” Specifically, I needed to choose a recipe on page 54 or 154 in the chosen book (that’s because the Recipe Redux is 54 months old)! So I pulled Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez from my cookbook armoire, and found Spicy Fresh Pineapple Salsa on page 54. It’s already a pretty nutritious recipe. But the salsa actually transforms into a great example of how you can still make small changes.
By making a few simple swaps, you can cut out a bit of calories, added sugars, and sodium. Here, I’ve replaced some of the pineapple with cucumber to reduce total calories ever-so-slightly; cut the salt by more than half; and removed the added sugar. I highlighted the savory instead of the sweet and the new result is a winner! The more recipes you can make similar changes with, the more successful you’ll be at reaching your health-minded goals.
Now all that’s left to do here is enjoy this easy, flavor-packed, and versatile salsa. It’ll be delightful paired with poultry, fish, or quesadillas. It makes a unique sandwich condiment. And it can be tossed with black beans to create a tropical bean salad. I’m sure there are numerous other ways to enjoy the salsa. Let me know how you serve it up!
Calories saved: 10
Why it’s better for you: Regularly making small reductions in calories, added sugars, and sodium in the short run can add up to big differences in the long run.
- 3/4 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
- 3/4 cup finely diced fresh English cucumber with peel
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno, extra-thinly sliced crosswise or minced
- Juice of 1/2 lime (1 tablespoon)
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Serve or cover and chill for up to 3 days.
Per serving: 15 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 4g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 3g gars, 0g protein
(Note: Salsa becomes a little juicier with time. It can also be made with fruits other than pineapple, such as mango.)
The “Before” Version
Inspired by Spicy Fresh Pineapple Salsa on page 54 in Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez (Wiley, 2011)
Per serving (for 6 servings, 1/4-cup each): 25 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 7g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 5g sugars, 0g protein
- For a slight calorie reduction, consider using non-starchy veggies in place of some fruit. It’ll potentially provide more intriguing taste, texture, and/or color. And you won’t need to cut portion size to get a calorie reduction!
- Consider whether added sugar is necessary for a recipe’s success. Try a fresh recipe without it first and give it a taste test to find out for sure.
- By reducing the amount of sweetness in a recipe like salsa, it often will be delicious with less salt since you won’t need it to balance the sweetness. Then enhance the savory side of the recipe if you like, such as is done with ground coriander and cumin in this salsa.