Eat Well May. 8. 2014

Salsa Fresca, three ways {mango, strawberry, cilantro}

May. 8. 2014
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

This week we’ve been celebrating all things related to Cinco de Mayo and today is one of my favorites to share!

It’s a delicious and fresh Salsa Fresca taken up a notch by adding ingredients to turn this one salsa into three different salsas total! You can use the classic Salsa Fresca recipe, Strawberry Salsa Fresca, Mango Salsa Fresca, or Cilantro Salsa Fresca on top of your Spring Veggie Tacos with Avocado Cream I just shared earlier this week or to simply much on with good ole’ tortilla chips.

There’s only one condiment besides mustard and pickles that I use almost daily in some form or another and it’s salsa! You can imagine my refrigerator is packed full of gourmet mustards of all kinds, pickles, and yes salsa; but salsa is the one condiments out of my “tops” that I love making on a weekly basis because of its simplicity. All kinds of salsa including fruit, vegetable, chili, or tomato based; whatever flavor and heat level I’ll try them all! So in celebration of Cinco de Mayo and the first week of May, I wanted to share with you all my absolute favorite salsa recipe I make all the time, Salsa Fresca. You’re also in for a treat and getting 4 different recipes out of 1 by adding a couple additional ingredients to make four completely different flavored salsas.

Salsa is a fantastic condiment, especially when it’s homemade, it’s fresh, light, and bursting with flavors. Inherently salsa is loaded with veggies and you can get away with sneaking in a couple non-traditional veggies like carrots or fruits, which is especially great for the getting the little ones to eat their veggies. Salsa is also a low-calorie option perfect for those of you who are trying to meet and achieve your fat/weight loss goals (my clients love this as an option for keeping their calories and macronutrients in check without sacrificing any flavor). Lastly, salsa is incredibly versatile! Whoever said salsa is just for fried tortilla chips or mexican food has vastly underrated its use. I love using salsa on my One Bowl Skillet Meals for a topping with fresh avocado, cumin, and lime juice; I also enjoy using salsa mixed with homemade hummus for a salsa-hummus dip, or blending it with my Classic Cashew Cheese for a cheezy-salsa dip, or simply with half an avocado.

Serve With

Salsa Fresca
Recipe Type: dip, sauce, dressing
Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 10+
A fresh salsa using classic salsa ingredients with a hot spin. GF Raw VGN
  • 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 large jalapeno flesh, de-seeded (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup red onion
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Put all the ingredient in a food processor and pulse to combine. There can some variation with this texture, I personally enjoy it to be on the thinner side so I blend longer.
  2. If you enjoy your salsa chunky, pulse and check the texture.
  3. Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
  4. Enjoy!
Use whichever tomatoes are fresh ora in season that you prefer. The grape/cherry tomatoes are sweet and it’s enjoyable to mix with the spices.

Salsa Fresca, three ways.

The following are simple instructions on how to take this basic salsa recipe to the next level. You’ll take the basic Salsa Fresca recipe above and add the following variations.


I love using sweet and juicy mangos for this variety to give the salsa a new flavor, incredibly sweet with a hint of heat from the jalapenos.

  • What you’ll add to Salsa Fresca: 1 whole ripe mango or about 1 1/2 cups (make sure the mango is super ripe, soft and fragrant or you’ll miss out on the punch of flavor mango will give it).


Another fruit salsa, but don’t be fooled by the sweet strawberries, this salsa packs a punch of heat by using a touch of habanero! Even if you don’t have habanero on hand, use additional jalapenos or chili peppers to increase the heat, the end goal is to have a nice balance of sweet + heat.

  • What you’ll add to Salsa Fresca: 1 1/2 cups fresh ripe strawberries + 1 teaspoon of habanero. If you want to exercise some caution or make this less hot, use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of habanero; it doesn’t seem like much but trust me it’s hot!


this may be my favorite variation of the three. I adore the fresh, light and bright flavors of cilantro that cut the spicy and bold flavors of the original Salsa Fresco.

  • What you’ll add to Salsa Fresca: additional 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro + juice of 1 lemon

TIP // when handling peppers in general, I recommend wearing latex gloves to avoid getting the pepper oils on your hands and accidentally rubbed somewhere on your face. Trust me, taking out your contacts later will be much easier… ow.

I love that all of these recipes take less than 5 minutes to make and will please a crowd of different taste buds. Come back tomorrow for another Cinco de Mayo inspired “recipe”. Enjoy 🙂

xx McKel

The Recipe

Serves 10+



  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tomatillos
  • 1-2 jalapenos
  • 1/2 cup red or white onion
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper


  1. In the oven on broil, charr all ingredients except the garlic and cherry tomatoes for 5-8 minutes or until all the ingredients have a nice black charr to them.
  2. In the meantime, pulse the cherry tomatoes in a food processor to break them down and strain the excess liquid from the tomatoes using a fine mesh strainer, discarding the excess water from the tomatoes.
  3. Put all the ingredients from the oven and the strained tomatoes and garlic, in a food processor and pulse to combine. There can some variation with this texture, I personally enjoy it to be on the thinner side so I blend longer. Adjust seasonings like sea salt and lemon juice to taste
  4. Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
  5. Enjoy!

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