Seasonal Eating – Tomatoes

by healthnutmama on July 25, 2009

fresh from the garden

fresh from the garden

See tomato sauce recipe below!

The list seems to be endless on how good tomatoes are for you.  The Lycopene carotenoid is the most talked about nutrient in tomatoes.  It is a strong antioxidant that gives the tomato its characteristic red color.  No other fruit or vegetable has a higher concentration of Lycopene than the tomato.  Lycopene puts up a strong fight against many cancers including prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and cancers of the stomach, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and A, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, niacin, and fiber.  For very detailed nutrition information look here.  This website goes into details on helpful studies that I found very interesting!

The health benefits of tomatoes are not limited to raw tomatoes.  It is everything made from tomatoes, including tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato paste, and the list goes on.  It is important to eat tomatoes along with a fat such as avacodos, olive oil and nuts because the caratenoids are fat-soluable which means they are absorbed into the body along with fats.

There is also evidence that suggests that tomatoes help to fight against age-related macular degeneration.

Tomatoes are so abundant this time of the year so I like to make my own homemade tomato sauce that I serve over pasta or couscous.  This is basically what I do:

  • Drop whole tomatoes (let’s say 6) in boiling water for one minute, remove, peel, and squeeze out most of the seeds
  • Cut tomatoes into chunks, and put in a sauce pan with a little olive oil (a few tablespoons)
  • Add several cloves of fresh garlic cut into big chunks (I usually use about 5 because I like it strong)
  • Add Herbes de Provence (apx 2-3 tsps depending on how “herb-y” you like your sauce)
  • Salt to taste (1 tsp)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar (to help with the acidity)
  • Let simmer for an hour or so, covered.  If it is too watery you can take the lid off at the end to evaporate some of the water.
  • Add freshly chopped basil at the end before serving.  Don’t cook the basil along with it or the flavor won’t be as robust.
  • Remove from heat and add a few more tablespoons of olive oil (when you cook olive oil, it cooks out the good flavor of it, so I like to add it at the end to include the delicious taste of extra virgin olive oil.)

This is good served alongside some sauteed chicken breasts.

I spent a few years living in France, one of those years being in the Provence region, and we enjoyed many dishes similar to this one.  It’s hard to mess up something like this.  You can vary the amounts of ingredients and even add your own and it will still be delicious.  I have my own stock of Herbes de Provence that I brought back from France but I looked online and you can find imported Herbes de Provence here. I cook with this ALL the time; I put it in almost every dish I make.

Try this simple recipe and see what you think!


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