It’s Wednesday, which in the blog world thanks to Jenn, means that I should probably be sharing my weekly eats. Unfortunately my meals haven’t been very exciting lately (lots of smoothies, a few chicken burgers, tons of salads, the inevitable ice cream) and those that are post worthy have been devoured faster than my camera’s shutter speed.
One recent addition into my diet has been tomatoes. Last week my dad made pasta with a pesto sauce. I wasn’t too excited as pasta isn’t my favourite dish but what intrigued me to try some were the grilled shrimp and tomatoes. Rather than adding in carrots or red peppers, he broiled tomatoes for garnishing. They were so good, which looking back makes total sense given tomatoes are in season here in Ontario. Ever since that meal, I’ve been adding tomatoes into sandwiches and salads. I’m even considering blending them into a fruit or mixing them into my baking. Botanically because of their seeds, they are considered to be fruits and its common to bake with fruit so why not? This being said they belong to the night-shade family along with sweet peppers and potatoes so maybe they are vegetables? I’m not too sure, that debate confuses me.
As a kid, tomatoes were much too gooey and messy for my liking. It wasn’t until I tried chilled gazpacho soup from Prêt-A-Manger during a trip to NYC, that I acquired a love for their flavour. Naturally when I hear the word Tomato I think of the song “You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Tomato’…” or, alternatively I wonder why there is an E tacked on to the plural version. Of course the foodie in me thinks about all of the benefits tomatoes have to offer.
- Tomatoes are good sources of lycopene, an anxtioxidant that protects against some cancers, in particular prostate and cervical.
- Red tomatoes contain up to four times as much beta carotene as green, but ripe and unripe tomatoes are otherwise nutritionally similar.
- The beta-carotene helps protect skin against sun damage and the lyocepene makes skin less sensitive to UV light which prevents wrinkles and fine lines.
- A useful source of vitamins A and C, folate and potassium. They are also low in sodium and one serving provides you with 2 grams of fiber.
- Tomatoes provide small amounts of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.
- The vitamin K and calcium in tomatoes help to strengthen and repair bones. Lycopene also has been shown to improve bone mass.
- Tomatoes are rich in chromium which contributes to keeping your blood sugar in balance.
- Recent studies show that eating the seeds of tomatoes minimizes your likelihood of developing kidney stones or gallstones.
- Tomatoes are high in bioflavonoids and carotenoids which are known anti-inflammatory agents and can reduce pain.
The only down side to tomatoes is that raw or cooked, they may cause indigestion and heartburn due to an unidentified substance that can prompt acid reflux. As well, tomatoes contain a toxic substance called solanine, which can trigger a headache in sensitive individuals. They’ve also linked tomatoes to setting off allergies, so even if you can eat ketchup, it is possible that in the raw form, tomatoes may prompt an anaphylactic reaction. This is caused by the lycopene within the seeds. Of course reactions are rarely heard of and chances are if you have been eating tomatoes your entire life without indigestion, headaches or allergies, you’ll be fine. Recently I’ve been enjoying them …
- Sliced: On turkey and avocado sandwiches
- Diced: Mixed into quinoa and couscous salads
- Chopped: Quartered into a Greek salad or cubed into a watermelon salad
- Tossed: With bocconcini cheese, oregeno, parsley and balsamic vinegar
- Baked: Coated with Olive Oil (Optional: Salt and Pepper) and baked at 400°F for 10- 15 minutes, (Flip halfway through)
- Fresh: Picked off of my neighbour’s tomato tree (I’m taking care of it since they are on vacation)
You might also enjoy drinking tomato juice, scrambling tomatoes into eggs, cooking tomatoes into a marinara sauce, eating tomatoes whole like you would do an apple, stewing tomatoes into soup, or making fresh tomatoes into a salsa or bruschetta. What’s your favourite way to eat tomatoes? How do you pronounce the ending of the word? Do you consider tomatoes to be fruits or vegetables? ♥ Molly
Fun Fact: Did you know that Tomatoes were brought to Europe from Central America by the Spanish during the 16th century? They were grown as decorative plants in northern Europe but weren’t eaten because people feared that poisons in the leaves might be present in the seeds as well!