formats

Peperoncini Salsa

Salsa1

I’ve never been a huge salsa fan. Oh sure, I’ll have some salsa with chips or add it to to other ingredients as an alternative to regular tomato sauce, but it’s not like I would normally sit down and just pig out on chips (or other foods) laden with salsa. Until now.

It all started a few weeks ago when I bought a packaged (but not canned) salsa from the deli at my local supermarket. It was AMAZING. It’s Margaritaville® mild salsa, and I definitely recommend it if you can find it. It had just the right amount of spice and sweet. It was made with Peppadew™ peppers, which I had never heard of before. Turns out that is a specific brand of sweet piquante pepper originating from South Africa. It’s pickled according to their special recipe and bottled. Who knew?

Since I did not have any Peppadew™ peppers, I wondered how I might go about creating my own version of this palate-pleasing salsa. As I searched my refrigerator and pantry, the thought occurred to me: What about peperoncini peppers (can also be spelled pepperoncini, in case you were wondering)? They’re sweet and spicy but not too spicy. It was time to begin experimenting!

peperoncini2

Peperoncini 

And oh what fun I have had over the past couple weeks making batch after batch of delicious salsa. I’ve been eating it on everything — tortilla chips (even though I shouldn’t be eating too many chips), salad, gluten-free burritos, eggs (I don’t always eat 100% vegan), veggie burgers, and even sometimes a spoonful or two by itself!

One thing I love about this salsa is that it’s so FRESH! I know there are benefits to canning salsa and having it available to pull off the shelf in the middle of winter, but I must say the freshness of the tomatoes and peppers and onions mixed in with the peperoncini is just so wonderful! I add lemon juice for flavor but also because (in my limited experience) it helps fresh foods stay fresh a bit longer. All the salsa I’ve made so far has been eaten pretty quickly, so I haven’t been able to test how it lasted more than four days, but I can say that at day four it still tasted fresh.

SalsaBefore

salsa-chopped

As for spices in this salsa, I use what is convenient for me — and probably for you, too. Fresh herbs might be better, but I don’t tend to have those around very often. I chose to use Frontier’s Mexican Seasoning as an easy and convenient alternative. Fresh garlic would be good, too, but I tend to be quite sensitive to garlic, especially when it’s raw, so I opted for a garlic and herb seasoning that I use for a variety of dishes. I definitely think you could experiment with your own spice combinations in this salsa and find what works for you. I also realize that cilantro is considered a staple in most salsa recipes. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of cilantro. I do like it in some dishes, but I find the flavor can sometimes be overpowering and a little soapy. So I didn’t include it in this recipe, but it’s certainly something you might want to consider adding if you like it.

tomatoes

Tomatoes are in season right now, so I’ve been using fresh tomatoes right out of the garden. They sometimes look a little worse for wear, but I don’t mind cutting out a few bad spots. There’s nothing like that fresh garden taste! I also just made this recipe with cherry tomatoes — so good! I used about 18-20 cherry tomatoes rather than 2-3 regular tomatoes.

cherry_tomatoes

If you want to add something extra special to this recipe, throw in some fresh sweet cherries! I’ve added as many as 18 (pits removed, of course) and it added such a pleasant flavor. I’ve also been thinking about trying peach and/or mango.

One side note about the peperoncini peppers: adjust the amount based on how much spice you want. The more peppers you use, the spicier your salsa will be. I used eight peppers in my most recent batch. I thought it was great but others thought maybe it was a bit too spicy. I’ve also used only the regular mild peperoncini, but you can get a hot variety, too. I prefer buying my peppers from the health food store because I’ve noticed they don’t have the artificial coloring like those at the regular grocery store.

I hope you will have fun experimenting with your own salsa until you find the blend of ingredients that suits you. It’s a great way to add more raw veggies into your diet!

Peperoncini Salsa
Author: 
 
A delicious fresh salsa made with tomatoes, peppers, onions, peperoncini peppers, and spices!
Ingredients
  • 2-3 fresh tomatoes
  • 6 peperoncini peppers (stems removed)
  • ½ bell pepper (any variety -- green, red, yellow, etc.)
  • 2 green onions
  • ½ tsp garlic herb seasoning
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp Mexican seasoning
  • ⅛ tsp powdered stevia
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in food processor (may want to roughly chop tomatoes, peppers, etc.) and pulse until thoroughly chopped but still chunky.
  2. Store in the refrigerator.
  3. Makes approximately 2-3 cups.

 

formats

Weighing In: The Truth

It has been a little over a year since my last post. It has been one of the most difficult and stressful years I’ve ever experienced (and I’m still dealing with many of the things that made it this way). I gained back all the weight I lost since I started this blog…and more. I am at my highest weight ever. I have been this weight before–quite a few years ago–and vowed I would never go back. I broke that promise to myself.

All of this is true.

But here’s something else that’s true. I believe that people can change–that I can change. I believe my body can change and my life can change. I believe I don’t have to do it all on my own. God is the strength of my heart (Psalm 73:26). This truth is greater than all those other truths I listed above. It’s hard to really believe this sometimes, especially when I see reality staring back at me in the mirror, but this truth won’t let me go. So I cannot give up.

Here I am. Ready to begin again. It’s time. I’m taking things one step at a time, and it may be slow going at first. But I choose to keep stepping. I hope you do, too.

formats

Good Stuff: Suzie’s Whole Grain Thin Cakes

thin_cakes1.jpg

I’ve decided to start writing about some of the products I like. I’m always interested to know what others have tried and liked, so I thought I’d share some of my own experiences.

To start, I’m going to tell you about one of my new favorite snacks: Suzie’s Whole Grain Thin Cakes. Sometimes you just need a crunchy snack or something cracker-like to put toppings on. But most crackers aren’t gluten free or they’re loaded with questionable ingredients or doused in oil.

thin_cakes2.jpg

I’ve tried two varieties of these simple snack cakes: lightly salted brown rice and lightly salted corn. I like both. Because they’re so thin, they work great for adding toppings and they’re not nearly as cumbersome as traditional rice cakes. You can have one or two and your snack craving is obliterated! I especially like mine with almond butter. Yum!

Here’s the skinny:

The lightly salted brown rice is made with whole grain brown rice and sea salt. Calories: 54, Fat: 0, Cholesterol: 0, Sodium: 30mg, Total Carbs: 12g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 0, Protein: 1g

The lightly salted corn is made with corn and sea salt. Calories: 38, Fat: 0, Cholesterol: 0, Sodium: 11mg, Total Carbs: 8g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 0, Protein: 1.5g

Not too shabby, huh? And the amounts listed are for one serving, which is three cakes! As far as taste goes, I slightly prefer the corn. It’s not even that bad plain.

thin_cakes3.jpg

I wouldn’t suggest gorging on these because they are, after all, still corn and rice. So even though they may be in a healthier form, I believe grains and starches are something that should be limited. But when you need a quick pick me up, these work great.

I found these at my local health food store, but I did a quick search and there are lots of places to buy them online…other varieties, too. I might have to check into that.

So here’s how I like to eat them when I’m being a bit naughty…yes, those are chocolate chips. Better than a candy bar, right?

thin_cakes4.jpg

By the way, when I share a product like this, it’s simply my own opinion. I have not been asked nor am I being compensated for reviewing anything.

formats

Oil-Free Basil Pesto

basil.jpg

Hello, basil. Welcome to my life.

I’ve never experimented much with fresh herbs. I know they’re supposed to be better than the powdered and packaged varieties, but dried herbs are certainly more convenient and easy to store. Quite honestly, the fresh herbs I see in my local supermarket often look pretty bad…even moldy. Eww.

When I saw this beautiful basil plant at Sam’s Club (of all places), I couldn’t resist it. The basil is actually one of several plants that came in this “Italian garden” blend, although the basil is certainly the centerpiece. I didn’t know what variety it was, but after a little research it looks like it’s Thai basil. Thai basil has a distinct anise or licorice flavor, which is really nice, and the purple flower clusters make it both beautiful and flavorful.

So now that I had a lovely basil plant, I had to figure out what to do with it. I knew that basil was a primary ingredient in pesto, so I decided that would be my first recipe. I quickly realized that pesto recipes use oil, which isn’t necessarily bad unless you’re trying not to use oil. My dad had a heart attack a year ago and he’s been trying to cut out excess fats, including oils, after reading about eating healthy and  reversing heart disease. So I’ve been trying to make foods that are generally low fat and don’t use added oils (he does allow some higher fat foods in their whole form, like nuts but not oil extracted from nuts). Then I came across a recipe for an oil-free pesto from Oh She Glows (link to recipe is below). Success!

pesto.jpg

This is a great little recipe that uses beans in place of oil. I thought it was excellent, and my dad did, too! It may not be quite like traditional pesto, but it fills the bill as far as I’m concerned. And if you’re looking to reduce fat in your diet, this is a great alternative. This pesto was also a bit less traditional because of the variety of basil I used. As I said before, the Thai basil has a licorice flavor, which not everyone may appreciate. But I loved it in this pesto!

Click here to view the recipe.  The only thing I changed in this recipe was the garlic. Fresh garlic doesn’t agree with me, so I rarely use it. I substituted a garlic and herb spice blend instead; I can’t remember the exact amount but probably 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.

So what did I do with the pesto after I made it?

pesto_pizza.jpg

Pizza!! I just spread the pesto on a simple crust and topped it with veggies. It was VERY good! The next day I used up the rest of the pesto with pasta.

pesto_pasta.jpg

I mixed the leftover pesto with a package of soft tofu. I combined that with quinoa noodles (gluten-free), fresh tomatoes, and a little seasoning salt. I didn’t like the pasta as much as the pizza, but it was still very good and easy.

And of course pesto also makes a great dip or salad topper. Hopefully I will do more experimenting with fresh herbs this summer, and I hope you will, too!

Tags: ,