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Tomatoes PDF Print E-mail

August 2012
by Chris Ellis, Staff Nutritionist

All summer I impatiently look forward to the wide diversity of scrumptiously juicy tomatoes of all sizes, colors, and flavors.  There is nothing more delicious than the mouth-watering taste of locally grown tomatoes, whether they are eaten as is or prepared in so many different ways:  stuffed tomatoes, pasta sauce, salsa, quiche, ratatouille, soup, etc. Along with the English we Americans were the last to accept tomatoes as edible. Botanically they are a fruit not a vegetable. However in 1893 the Supreme Court of the United States declared them a vegetable for the sake of the import tax. Tomatoes are native to Mexico and South America. The word tomato is derived from the Aztec word “xtomatl,” which means swelling fruit. The tomato came to North America in the 1600s or 1700s, after it had already made the long trip over to Europe where it became quite popular in the 1500s. Presently tomatoes are second only to potatoes in popularity in this country and are produced in abundance here.

Tomatoes have a multitude of health benefits!!! They are known as an outstanding source of lycopene, which helps to prevent many different health problems including cancer and heart disease, and it promotes bone health. Tomatoes provide a treasure of many other antioxidants in addition to lycopene. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, and potassium.
Choose tomatoes that are firm or use the softer ones in salsa, soups, and casseroles.

There is a never-ending list of things that you can prepare with tomatoes. One of my favorites is tomato soup or juice since I then get to enjoy it all winter long. This recipe was handed down from my grandmother who loved to cook and always had delicious simple yet gourmet recipes to share. I freeze large batches of this soup since that is a great thing to do when the tomato harvest is out of control. The fresh taste of summer hits the spot in the middle of winter.