It’s hard to believe that many people in America thought tomatoes were poisonous until the mid-19th century. Now, our meals would not be the same without catsup, pizza, spaghetti sauce and Mexican food.
Tomatoes pack a lot of nutrition in a small package. One cup has 24 calories and contains vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin K. Tomatoes, especially cooked ones, are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce prostate cancer risk.
There are around 7,500 varieties of tomatoes in the world. Tomatoes can be red, yellow, pink, purple, white or multicolored. Some varieties are still green when they are fully ripe.
Many people have become fans of “heirloom” tomatoes that have a richer flavor and a more interesting appearance than regular tomatoes. The best place to find these are at the farmer’s market. Or, grow yourself a little bit of tomato heaven in your own garden.
If a tomato is not fully ripe, leave it in a warm, sunny place for a few days. Once ripe, keep them at room temperature. Once they are cut, however, refrigerate them in an airtight, non-metal container and use them within a day or two.
Recipe: Quick Spaghetti Sauce
- 12 ounces very lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 16 ounce can unsalted diced tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon basil
- 2 teaspoons sugar or 1 packet artificial sweetener
- In a large non-stick skillet, brown the ground meat with the onion and garlic.
- Pour off any fat.
- Add the tomato paste.
- Fill the can with water and add that along with the canned tomatoes.
- Stir in the herbs and the sugar.
- Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve over whole-wheat pasta or use as a pizza sauce.
Makes four servings.
Nutrition Analysis (without pasta)
Calories: 237, carbohydrate: 19 grams, protein: 25 grams, fat: 7 grams, sodium: 152 milligrams, fiber: 4 grams