Published on August 18, 2014

Eat More Tomatoes!

TomatoesTomayto…Tomahto. Call them what you want…just eat more! Especially June through September when the local crop is in peak season, abundant, full of nutrition, and absolutely delicious! 

Sliced or diced, grilled, sautéed, roasted, stewed, or even dehydrated, tomatoes are amenable not only to raw consumption, but a host of healthy cooking methods as well. Limited only by the cook’s imagination, their culinary possibilities are endless. Just take, for example, the quick, easy to prepare, chilled summer tomato-tahini soup recipe below, that incorporates your fresh from the garden picks.   

And why limit yourself to just red, when diversity of flavors is one of the tomato’s strengths. The yellow and orange ones tend to be less acidic and therefore sweeter than most red tomatoes, and have an almost tropical, fruity flavor as a result. Green tomatoes, on the other hand, tend to be a bit tarter with a citrusy tang, because their natural sugar content hasn’t completely developed. Purple and blackish tomatoes have a deeper more complex flavor that is similar to that of red wine.

Beside their culinary versatility and diversity of flavor, tomatoes are well known nutrient powerhouses. Consuming tomatoes can provide the body with vital vitamins and minerals such as folate, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium. Their antioxidant content, including vitamins A and Vitamin C, and their often times rich concentration of lycopene, may offer preventive measures for certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer. Intake of tomatoes also has been long linked to heart health.  Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. 

Whether you buy them at your local grocery store, visit a town farmer’s market, grow them yourself at home, or take stock in your next store neighbor’s harvest, you won’t get bored easily with this ingredient.  The wide range of varieties spanning a multitude of different shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles, is certain to keep you inspired.  Throw them in a salad, a morning omelet, on a sandwich, in a soup, or even in a roasted tomato-basil sorbet for desert!  And you know what they say…“a tomato a day, keeps the doctor away!” Well, that may not be the exact saying, but after all, it is tomato season! Enjoy!   

 
Chilled Tomato-Tahini Soup

# servings:  8

Servings Size:  1 cup
 
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons     Extra virgin olive oil
1 each              Red bell pepper
3 clove             Garlic
1 medium        Yellow onion
6 each              Red ripe tomatoes, rough chopped
1 each              15-ounce can low-sodium/no-salt added chickpeas, drained, rinsed
½ cup              Tahini paste
2 tablespoon    Fresh lemon juice
6 cups              Low-sodium/fat free chicken or vegetable stock or water
½ teaspoon      Ground cumin
½ teaspoon      Sea salt
½ teaspoon      Ground white pepper
½ cup              Fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup              0% fat plain Greek Yogurt
 
Preparation:

  1. In a 4 quart saucepan or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes
  2. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas and cook another 3 minutes until tomatoes start to soften and release their juice
  3. Add the tahini paste, lemon juice, stock, cumin, salt, and white pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook an additional 3 minutes
  4. Fold in the cilantro leaves and Greek yogurt and turn off heat
  5. In small batches, puree the soup carefully in a blender, making sure the blender lid is tightly held down and secure. Pour pureed soup into another medium side bowl. Continue until all soup is pureed
  6. Adjust seasonings to preference, and allow soup to cool fully in the refrigerator
  7. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Nutrition: (label below) calories per srvg 160, total fat 8g, sat fat  1g, trans fat 0g, cholesterol 0mg,sodium 180mg, total carbohydrate 18g, dietary fiber 5g, sugars 6g, protein 8g

Tomato Soup Label

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