Tomatoes: A Healthy Food Ingredient

Tomatoes offer loads of health benefits.  Tomatoes include four carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene).  Adding tomatoes to your family’s diet can offer the following benefits:

  • antioxidant activity (an ability to help protect cells and other structures in our body from oxygen damage-breakdown),
  • cancer prevention,
  • giving Vitamins A, E, K, and C,
  • loaded with the mineral potassium,
  • gives breastfeeding moms increased concentration of lycopenein in their breast milk,
  • lowers death rate from heart disease,
  • anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting affects
  • good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorous,
  • 1 cup of tomato offers 2 grams of dietary fiber and 1.5 grams of protein

 

Tomatoes are easily grown in a container or in-ground garden.  They can easily be a part of your family’s every day diet.  Here are some of my family’s favorite recipes that use tomatoes as a main ingredient.

 

Tomato PieTomato Pie

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.  Ingredients:

 

1 deep dish frozen pie crust or make your own single pie crust (healthier!)

2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese

8 medium sized tomatoes cut into ¼ inch slices

Fresh ground pepper to taste

3 cloves of garlic chopped/pressed

2 tsp dried basil or 2 tbsp of fresh basil

½  cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz cream cheese

1 cup of thinly sliced green onions

 

Instructions:  Generously grease a deep-dish 9 inch pie plate. In a bowl combine all ingredients except for the tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  Place a layer of tomatoes on the bottom of the pie plate.  Thinly spread the cheese combination over the tomatoes.  Continue to alternate the tomato layer and cheese spread until the last layer is tomatoes on top.  Then sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the last layer of tomatoes. Bake for 40-50 min or until bubbly.  Cool about 20 minutes and enjoy!   Wonderful cold too.

 

Tomato sandwich

Tomato Grilled Cheese

6-8 servings  Turn on oven broiler. Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea Salt
1  baguette bread loaf,  halved lengthwise
1 garlic clove pressed
2 medium tomatoes, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 pound sliced provolone cheese  or mozzarrella

Instructions: Combine the olive oil, basil, red pepper flakes and a pinch of sea salt in a small bowl. Brush ½ of this oil combination on the cut sides of the baguette.   Place the bread oiled side up in the broiler for about 2-3 minutes (until just starting to brown).  Then, top the bread with the tomato slices, season with another sprinkle of salt and cover with the provolone or mozzarrella cheese.  Place back under the broiler until the cheese melts, 3 to 5 more minutes. Drizzle with the remaining flavored oil. Cut into pieces and serve warm.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves.  Enjoy!   Wonderful with a fruit salad.

 

Fruit-Tomato Salsa

Makes about 2 cups (8 servings)

6 medium tomatoes, cut into small pieces

1 large mango or 2 peaches cut into small pieces

1/3 cup chopped green onions

¼ teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons of green pepper

3 pinches of pepper

1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
4 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

Instructions: Add all the ingredients to a large bowl.  Stir to combine and let stand 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, leftover salsa will stay fresh for up to one day.   Serve with baked tortilla chips.  This can be the vegetable in your child’s lunchbox for a different idea!

 

Cherry Tomato Pasta Toss

Serves 4  Ingredients:

8 oz of whole wheat pasta (you can use penne noodles or spaghetti noodles)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves pressed

1 package of cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions:   Cook pasta as directed on the package, drain.  While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-low heat.  Add garlic and stir until golden (about 2 minutes). Then, add tomatoes, increase to medium-high heat and simmer until tomatoes are softened and juicy (about 6 minutes).  Stir in pasta and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Enjoy!

 

Tomatoes offer a variety of health benefits and can be the main ingredient or an addition to many dishes.  Whether you enjoy them sliced fresh, cooked, or as a sauce tomatoes are good for your health!

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