You Say Tomato!

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By Sidra Forman, Best Life chef

No matter how you say it, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Tomatoes are nutritional powerhouses. They’re loaded with vitamin C and disease-fighting antioxidants like lycopene. Plus, they’re versatile and delicious. Can you think of another food that goes so well with just about any other food, including corn, basil, mint, onion, garlic, mustard, lemon, lime, salad greens, cucumber, eggplant, summer squash, beans, grains, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fish and poultry?

Tomatoes, which are actually a fruit, are in season from late June through October, and there are thousands of varieties to choose from. You’ll find a rainbow of shades, including black, orange, yellow, pink, green (even when ripe) and all shades of red by mid-summer. Some are better suited for cooking, while others are best raw.

To pick the perfect tomato, look for one that’s plump and heavy and has smooth skin and a fragrant smell. If you’re shopping at a farmers market, you may want to opt for a more delicate tomato—these are often superior in taste. And don’t make the mistake of tossing them in the refrigerator when you get home; this can cause a loss of flavor and texture. Instead, store them at room temperature.

You can enjoy them raw: Pop cherry tomatoes into your mouth for a quick and healthy snack, slice up a tomato and add it to your favorite sandwich or wrap, or try this cold tomato salad recipe:

Tomato Salad

Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS
4 cups sliced tomatoes (try heirloom tomatoes, or a combination of different varieties)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/8 cup chopped chives
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/16 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 43
Protein: 1.3 g
Carbohydrate: 7.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Total Fat: 1.1 g
Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Calcium: 4 mg
Sodium: 43.7 mg

 


Have a few extra tomatoes? Whip up this easy tomato sauce recipe and store it in the freezer for future use.

Quick Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 Servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS
4 tomatoes (plum tomatoes are a good choice), peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS
1. In a saucepan, combine tomato, garlic, basil and salt.

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until most of the liquid is gone, approximately 10 minutes.

3. Serve immediately or freeze.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 23
Protein: 4.1 g
Carbohydrate: 5.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Total Fat: 0.3 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Calcium: 1 mg
Sodium: 79 mg