Tomato

 

Background Info:

  • Before the 19th century tomatoes were served on lead dishes. The acid from the tomatoes would cause the lead to leach out and after consuming the dish diner’s would die, causing many to believe tomatoes were poisonous. This explains why people would throw tomatoes at people when they booed them off stage
  • Technically a fruit although often referred to as vegetables due to an 1893 government classification for trade purposes

Health Benefits:

  • They are high in water content making them lower in calories.
  • The outer layer of any tomato offers up the most anthocyanins therefore cherry tomatoes pack more antioxidants than an equal serving of Roma tomatoes due to their greater skin-to-flesh ratio.
  • Green tomatoes have been found to contain tomatidine which helps build muscle
  • Contains lycopene which is fat soluble so pair with a fat source such as olive oil or avocado to increase the absorption
    • Cooking before eating will also help increase the absorption of lycopene in tomatoes

Colors & Flavors:

  • Red
    • Most common
    • Contains lycopene
    • Acidic flavor perfect for adding zip to salads
  • Yellow
    • High in niacin & beta-carotene
    • Sweet & pairs well with strong cheese like Gorgonzola
  • Green
    • Unripe, firmer skin
    • Ideal for stuffing
  • Purple
    • Rarer find
    • Rich in anthocyanins & carotenoids
    • Sprinkle with salt to bring out natural sweetness

Heirloom Varieties:

  • Green zebra
    • Fruity with playful bursts of lemon-lime
    • Delicious way to balance rich proteins like pork chops
  • Brandy-wine
    • Full flavored, classic tomato taste
    • Wonderful raw in salads & sandwiches or simply roasted
  • Cherokee purple
    • Smoky with a slight sweetness, likened to a Zinfandel wine
    • Great in salsas or cold soups like gazpacho
  • Yellow pear
    • Tart & sweet with a citruslike acidity
    • Delicious dipped in hummus or halved & served in salads
  • Persimmon
    • Mild & sweet, nice acid-to-sugar balance
    • Great diced & mixed with fruit for a simple salad

Nutrition Information (1 large red):

  • Calories: 33
  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Lutein
  • When possible, choose freshly picked tomatoes which will contain more nutrients. Supermarket tomatoes are often picked 2 weeks before they go to the store.

Nutrition Information (1 large green):

Season:

  • June through September

Choose:

  • Pick firm, heavy, fragrant tomatoes
  • Avoid any with soft spots, mold, or black marks
    • Scars on heirloom varieties don’t affect taste or texture
  • Farmer’s markets should have just-harvested ripe options whereas supermarkets may refrigerate immature fruit resulting in mealy texture and less flavor
  • In season tomatoes will be best as off-season, trucked-in varieties are bred to withstand the rigors of transportation and will be less flavorful

Store:

  • Store tomatoes at room temperature or between 55-65°F
  • Place in a single layer to avoid bruising
  • If already ripe and won’t be used for a few days, place in the warmest part of the refrigerator

Cook:

  • Roasting, grilling, or sauteing tomatoes increases the levels of disease-fighting phytochemicals that your body can absorb
  • Incorporate into appetizers by using chopped tomatoes as a base for the topping on bruschetta, toasted bread brushed with olive oil and garlic.
  • Serve whole red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes with hummus or a yogurt dip.
  • Make a caprese salad by simply arranging sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, drizzling with olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
  • Try baking green tomatoes with a light coating of egg whites & whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • Add to salads, pasta, and pasta salads

References:

  • Lieberman, Layne. “From the Vine.” Food & Nutrition. July/August 2017. 30-31.
  • Young, Grace. “Ripe and Ready.” Weight Watchers. July/August 2015. 57.
  • Savacool, Julia. “Ripe Right Now.” Weight Watchers. July/August 2014. 15.
  • Hobbs, Suzanne. (2014, June 17). “On the Table: 5 Healthy Ways to Enjoy Tomatoes.” Retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/17/3941578/5-healthy-ways-to-enjoy-tomatoes.html
  • Ansel, Karen. “25 Easy (Delicious!) Ways to Eat Healthy.” Self. June 2014. 102.
  • “Tomato Juiced.” Prevention. August 2014. 37.
  • “Decoding the rainbow.” Prevention. August 2014. 120-121.
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