Face-melting Salsa for the Low-Sodium Diet

I LOVE hot salsa. Well, as long as it doesn’t have cilantro in it. I HATE cilantro.

Problem: I was recently put on a low-sodium (1500 mg per day or less) diet by a military physician. My favorite hot salsa has 250 mg of sodium in two tablespoons. I usually eat 10 tablespoons of it at a time. That means that most of my sodium would be used up in the salsa on whatever else I was eating. In. One. Meal.

Solution: Figure out a way to make my own hot salsa without all the salt. Good news – just below the horrid sodium count on a jar of Pace Hot Picante Sauce, they list the ingredients. An idea is born. It takes three days to make this, so if you are impatient, just go buy some and deal with high blood pressure!



Dave’s Face-Melting Salsa


Start at the grocery store… you’ll need to buy three or four green jalapeno peppers and two red chili peppers. FRESH. If you use anything from a can in this, you might as well just eat the Pace. You will need to buy two giant tomatoes or three medium ones. make sure they are a sweet variety and very ripe.

Go ahead and get some dried oregano, dried basil, white wine vinegar, regular distilled white vinegar and two cloves of garlic (you can buy a jar of prepared, minced garlic for this if your store has it and has the kind with no sodium)

You’ll need a jar of Bertolli’s Spaghetti Sauce. Don’t worry about the sodium in this, as it has a ton. I will explain this later on. 

That’s it. Buy all of those items. You can use the vinegar and spices several times, but the peppers  and tomatoes are a one shot deal, so it’s not as expensive as it seems. 

Prep work – Day One

Open the Bertolli’s spaghetti sauce and dump it out in the trash. That’s right, the contents of the jar are trash. The jar is magic. Trust me on this… DUMP THE BERTOLLI’s, SAVE THE JAR. Wash the jar. Wash it again. Wash it again and make sure none of the vile residue is inside. Fill it with the white, distilled vinegar (basically you are just measuring a certain amount of vinegar with the jar), and then dump the vinegar into a medium saucepan and boil it. Don’t rinse the jar. Set it aside. 

Wash your peppers as you would wash any fresh vegetable and set them aside. Once the vinegar is boiling, pour the smelly stuff into your clean Bertolli jar. Fill it about 3/4 of the way. Put your clean peppers in the vinegar. Either add vinegar if needed or put the lid on. Dump the rest of the vinegar or dye some eggs with it. 

Wait two days. 

Melt Some Faces – Day Three

Mince your two cloves of garlic. If you bought minced garlic, you’ll be happy that this work is already done. Mincing garlic is a horrible job. Never do it unless you have to.

Wash the tomatoes. Core them and dice them into small cubes, being careful to keep all of the skin, seeds and juice. Once you have that done, put the diced tomatoes in a medium sauce pan on low heat. (If you HATE to dice tomatoes, you can use a can of “NO SALT ADDED” diced tomatoes from the store. The can will not taste as good, and will have about 40-60mg of sodium in the whole can. Not so bad. )

Add four or five, maybe six, tablespoons of the white wine vinegar to the pot. 

Carefully, and maybe even with rubber gloves on, take your peppers out of the Bertolli’s jar and put them on the cutting board. Dump the vinegar and rinse out the jar, but don’t wash it. 

Being mindful that you are putting very spicy oil on your fingers (unless you have on rubber gloves), slice and dice the peppers. They will be mushy, and that is okay. You will not be able to chop them, but they will slice easily. Once they are diced, add them, seeds and juice too, into the pot. 

Sprinkle some basil and twice as much oregano into the pot. I don’t measure, but about a teaspoon of one and two teaspoons of the other. Add two tablespoons of minced garlic. 

Stir everything together. If your eyes itch, DO NOT TOUCH THEM! Perhaps nothing else is as important as this instruction. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES (or any other sensitive part of your body or anyone else’s).

Turn up the heat to medium-high. Let it start to boil. Once it boils, turn it down to low and cover. Set a timer for 45 minutes.

Spend the next 45 minutes washing your hands over and over again. Use a lot of soap. Use bleach. Use Tide. Use anything you can get your hands on. Wash those hands and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE!

After 45 minutes, pour your salsa into the Bertolli’s jar and put the lid on. Put in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour, serve on anything. Depending on the heat of the peppers you bought, this will be VERY SPICY! Not to be crude, but this is “burn twice” spicy. Be prepared. I like to cool mine off with fat-free sour cream.

Health Info 

This salsa recipe is a net-positive health wise. The tomatoes have a ton of potassium and the peppers have all kinds of anti-oxidants in them. There is very little sugar, only what is in a tomato naturally. There is little or zero fat. It has a ton of vitamins. As for the bad guy who started this mess, sodium, it has only what exists in the ingredients in nature, which amounts to about 5mg in two tablespoons. That’s right… 5mg OR LESS per two-tablespoon serving. Compare that with Pace at 250mg for two tablespoons. And this is better. Try it and let me know what you think in the comments section below.








2 thoughts on “Face-melting Salsa for the Low-Sodium Diet”

  1. Now that you’ve got salsa, you need Pickled vegetables to complete the full Taco night experience.

    When my idea of a perfect taco came from a drive-thru and had a foil pack of sauce I didn’t realize what I was missing. But a few years ago I heard buzz about the Taco Bus and it piqued my interest. I took a lunch break and headed over to Governor’s Drive to see the famous bus. (El Cazador actually has 2 other trucks and a restaurant in Huntsville, but all you ever hear about is the bus.) I stepped on board and ordered the Carne Asad tacos and grabbed a Sidral apple soda. When my number was called I was handed a plate with 4 boring looking tacos, a tiny cup each of red and green salsa, and a pile of what appeared to be carrots and onions.

    I understood the tacos were not going have a mound of cheese, but these were nothing but a tablespoon of meat with onion and cilantro, and I’m not a big fan of that soap weed cilantro! I decided to put my disappointment aside and give it a shot. I put a few drops of the red salsa on one end of the first taco and it was decent. Then I added a couple of drops of the green and was actually impressed. Then I tried a bite of the weird, wet carrot slice on the corner of the plate. Suddenly my mouth exploded with pleasure. This was the kicker, the ultimate thing to set off the Taco truck experience. I was so impressed with the carrot I had to try the onion. The onion was not quite as spicy, but had more of a sweet-sour taste. I knew then, that I would have to recreate this at home.

    Start out much like Dave’s salsa recipe, but stop when you pull the peppers out of the vinegar. At this point instead of throwing the vinegar out, return it to the saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add a few turns of fresh pepper, a couple of whole cloves, a dash of allspice, a bit of that minced garlic you bought for the salsa, and a tablespoon of sugar. While that is coming to boil slide a whole white onion into straps and slice a carrot on the bias so you end up with ovals around an inch and a half long. Toss those together and cram them tightly into the jar (put the salsa in a bowl, you won’t need to cover it, you know it won’t last that long). Now pour the hot vinegar into the jar. I highly recommend doing this step in the sink instead of over the stove, don’t ask why. Let this sit in the fridge overnight and you’ll have spicy Pickled veg the next evening. Let it sit for a month and it’ll melt your face. It’s amazing how much heat the vinegar can pull from the peppers!

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