Tomatoes are healthy and versatile. Serve them raw in a cool summer meal, or cook them up for a quick Italian-inspired dish.
Tomatoes: some people love ‘em and some people hate ‘em. Whichever group you fall into, it’s important to note that tomatoes are one of nature’s less publicized superfoods.
Tomatoes contain a high concentration of the carotenoid lycopene, a naturally occurring chemical pigment that gives fruits and vegetables their red colour. While watermelons, grapefruits, and apricots contain notable levels of lycopene, tomatoes are by far the best source of this powerful antioxidant. In fact, approximately 85 percent of Americans’ lycopene intake is attributed to tomatoes and tomato products such as juice and paste.
We love lycopene
Known to be one of the most potent antioxidants, lycopene may protect against prostate cancer, as studies suggest that men who eat tomato-based products regularly are less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who don’t.
Further, lycopene may also protect against heart disease by inhibiting free radical damage to LDL (bad) cholesterol, and it may possibly boost sperm concentration in infertile men.
Recent research has revealed that organic tomatoes, when compared to conventionally grown tomatoes, had higher antioxidant levels. As well, choosing organic tomatoes ensures that we ingest fewer pesticides and other chemicals and create less strain on the environment by maintaining soil quality, preserving water, and creating fewer greenhouse gases.
Tomatoes 5 ways
In addition to tomatoes’ major health benefits, they’re also incredible versatile. Serve them raw in a cool summer meal, or cook them up (cooking with extra-virgin olive oil actually increases tomatoes’ bioavailability) for an Italian-inspired dish to please the taste buds.
By roasting sliced tomatoes in the oven we intensify their flavour, making them a tasty topping for pizza, sandwiches, bruschetta, and veggie burgers.
Stuffed tomatoes are typically baked, but during the summer months, consider stuffing them raw with your favourite rice, orzo, or quinoa salad. If you prefer a hot stuffed tomato, top it with breadcrumbs and fresh-grated Parmesan cheese and pop it in the oven.
The key to an excellent tomato sauce is to choose the freshest high-quality ingredients available. Some of the best sauces are literally made with such few ingredients you can count them on one hand. Take this Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce, for example, which uses only fresh tomatoes, yellow onions, basil leaves, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
The base of a classic Mexican salsa is always tomatoes (or sometimes tomatillos). This Mexican Flag Salsa combines both, along with a medley of spicy and tangy flavours. Have it with organic corn tortilla chips, or use it to top tacos, burritos, nachos, burgers, and even scrambled eggs.
This cool summer soup is an explosion of flavours in your mouth. Try one of these alive-tested recipes at an upcoming summer dinner party: Golden Gazpacho, Organic Farmers’ Market Gazpacho, Traditional Gazpacho, or Fiery Chipotle Gazpacho.