Healthy Bites for May: National Salsa Month

May is National Salsa Month

Download a printable copy of this month's Healthy Bites Newsletter (PDF)

Questions or comments? Email author Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, Extension Nutrition Specialist 
Photo by: Alice Henneman

Salsas, Spanish for the word "sauce," are low in calories, full of flavor, and available with a variety of ingredients, from tomatoes, jalapenos and habaneras to mangoes, pineapples, strawberries and even beans. May is National Salsa Month, and the perfect way to celebrate is by experimenting with different salsa recipes. Salsas can be scrambled in eggs, dished as a garnish for chicken and fish, or served as an ice cream topping. Salsas are enjoyed for their intense flavors and colors. Check out the following tips for sensational salsas.

Spice up Snacks and Meals with Salsa:

Add taste without adding lots of calories. A combination of tomatoes, onions and peppers can add zest to chips. A mixture of fruit, herbs, onion, and pepper added to meat or fish can add unique flavors to dishes. There are a variety of salsa options for different preferences and dishes such as spicy, hot, sweet, savory, herbal and aromatic.

Salsa ingredients and preparation tips. Keep cut fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas and peaches, from turning brown by coating them with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice. Or use a commercial produce protector and follow the manufacturer's directions. Cover and refrigerate cut fruit and veggies until ready to serve. Most salsas taste best if refrigerated for about an hour before serving to let flavors blend.

Serve salsa safely. Perishable foods like dips, salsas, and cut fruit and vegetables should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If you will be serving items such as these for a longer period than this, set out a smaller bowl and then replace it with another one when it is empty. Do not add fresh dip or salsa to dip or salsa that has been sitting out. Refrigerate and use up any that has not been served within three to four days of preparation.

Salsa canning basics. Canning your own salsa recipe or changing the proportions of ingredients in a tested salsa recipe can be unsafe. The types and amounts of ingredients used, as well as the preparation method, are important considerations in how a salsa is canned. Improperly canned salsas or other tomato-pepper combinations have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism poisoning. If you don't have a tested recipe or proper canning equipment, you might try freezing your salsa. Be aware there may be changes in texture and flavor after freezing and thawing. Try freezing a small amount the first time. Herbs and spices may taste better if they are added fresh just before serving. If you are new to canning or need a refresher course, check out resources and information at:

Salsa is great for snacks and entrées, but it can also be used in desserts and baked goods. The choices are truly endless with the different combinations of fruits, vegetables, and herbs and spices. Check out the Nebraska Extension Food Calendar for more salsa recipe ideas and other national food days, weeks, and months to celebrate at: P.S. Check out our other newsletters at:

Feel free to use/adapt Healthy Bites material (with credit) for your own articles, blogs, handouts, etc. An example credit line would be: Authored by or Adapted from Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Specialist. Healthy Bites Newsletter,, May 2016.

More resources:

  • Cook it Quick. Our goal is to make you "hungry for healthy food" by offering tips and delicious, quick-to-prepare, inexpensive recipes.
  • Family Fun on the Run.  Family Fun on the Run is a monthly newsletter designed to help families add physical activity to their already hectic schedules.
  • Recipe Central. Enjoy healthy cooking from your own kitchen. Use recipes from our collections to get started!
  • Food Fun for Young Children. Newsletter that serves up quick, healthy snack ideas for younger children.