Delicious Tomato Season is Here

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tomatoes and zucchiniIs there anything better than a warm tomato picked from your garden? Okay, maybe there are a few things, but when you are biting into this ripe red fruit, or cutting a thick, juicy slab to put on your favorite piece of toast, it’s hard to think of what they may be.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have tomatoes growing in their backyard, but farmers’ markets are brimming with them, so most everyone should be able to enjoy locally grown tomatoes. Super fresh local tomatoes are sometimes even carried at area grocery stores at this time of year. It makes such a difference when they aren’t grown in hot-houses and shipped across the country (or even farther)!

Health benefits of tomatoes

Tomatoes aren’t only DELICIOUS! They are also chock-full of healthy nutrients. Starting with the basics, tomatoes contain large amounts of vitamin C, providing 40% of the daily value (DV). They also contain 15% DV of vitamin A, 8% DV of potassium, plus 7% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron for women and 10% RDA for men. Not bad for this little red guy, eh?

But that’s not all. They also contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is responsible for a tomato’s color. Studies have revealed that lycopene may have twice the punch of another well-known antioxidant, beta-carotene. Studies conducted by Harvard researchers have discovered that men who consumed 10 servings of tomatoes a week can cut the risk of developing prostate cancer by a whopping 45%.

However, lycopene’s benefits are not limited to the prostate. Researchers have found that those who consume more than 7 servings of raw tomatoes a week lower the risk of developing rectal, colon or stomach cancers by 60%. Israeli researchers have found that lycopene is a powerful inhibitor of lung, breast, and endometrial cancer cells. Research has also indicated that the lycopene in tomatoes can help older people stay active longer.

How to pick a tomato

When choosing or picking your tomatoes, look for bright red ones for the highest amount of lycopene. The richer in color they are, the more nutrient dense they are. (Tomatoes that are yellow or green when ripe are also loaded with nutritional value, by the way.)

How to store a tomato

To get the most from a tomato, DO NOT REFRIGERATE it. Instead, to get the most flavor and juiciness, tomatoes are best stored at room temperature; being in the fridge will hinder the ripening process and impede flavor and texture. If storing them in a cool place, pull them out 30 minutes before use. Tomatoes, depending on age and condition, can keep on the counter for up to one week.

Personally, my favorite way to eat a fresh tomato is sliced up with a little salt. I also enjoy the following easy lunch, a simple tomato sandwich!

Toasted Tomato Sandwich

Step 1: Toast your favorite bread (I like Ezekiel sprouted)
Step 2: Butter the bread with your favorite vegan spread
Step 3: Load up with sliced tomatoes
Step 4: Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Step 5: Devour!

So, dig in to this summer’s most delicious offerings… while you can! And if you have an abundance of tomatoes, consider canning!

Photo from Margaret’s garden.

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