In every session with my clients, we always have a Food of the Day that is based on what specifically the client is working on, and the season. Before summer ends, I want to make SURE I talk about tomatoes. YES! Tomato plants love hot days and the hot days give us nice, big, plump tomatoes. They are found in cuisines all over the world, but they are originally native to Western South America. Tomatoes are known for their high vitamin C and high antioxidant content. Specifically they get a lot of buzz for an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is in the carotenoid family and is shown to be cancer protective for at least prostrate and breast cancer, excellent for heart health, and helpful for keeping blood vessels strong and healthy. Lycopene has also been shown to be more absorbable after it's heated. (Which is a great reason to make tomato sauce!)
I always, however, recommend clients to have a mix of raw and cooked tomatoes. Raw tomatoes have an excellent vitamin C content, especially in that jelly around the seeds, so don’t throw that away!
Another wonder about tomatoes is that they contain glutamates, which are natural flavor enhancers. You might have heard of glutamates because of MSG, or Mono Sodium Glutamate. MSG is a flavor enhancer that fits my definition of a processed food: you can't make it in your own kitchen. So, I prefer to add naturally occurring glutamates to my dishes. Tomatoes! Excellent! In they go. Other foods that include natural glutamates are mushrooms, anchovies, parmesan cheese, and of course, bacon!
Tomatoes are also part of the nightshade family, which includes peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and cayenne to name a few. Some find they are sensitive to nightshades, and for those with arthritis, it is advised to cut them out to see if symptoms improve.
Choose firm tomatoes with bright green stems, and buying them straight from the farmers market ensures freshness and taste. Store tomatoes at room temperature, for putting them in the refrigerator will make them mealy. If buying them canned, which is a fine choice when they aren't in season, make sure your cans say BPA free (BPA is a chemical added to can linings that can disrupt hormones), or buy them in glass jars.
My Most Recent Tomato Obsession: Gazpacho
Gazpacho originated from the Andalusia region of Spain, and is a soup, usually with a tomato base, that is served cold. It has now evolved to take on many different forms, and it’s my recent summertime obsession. It is extremely refreshing to have on hot summer days.
2 cups tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 large red pepper
1 cup loosely packed basil
2 cloves raw garlic
1 T balsamic or wine vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Throw all ingredients into a blender, or place in a deep bowl and use an immersion blender. Blend.
2) Salt and pepper to taste!
3) Serve with toast or crackers, or hard boiled eggs!