Summer Time is Tomato Time!

Tomato1Ahhh, summer…finally here, and nothing says summer like tomatoes. I’ve tried to grow them myself a couple of times, but our dog Cody apparently LOVES them (he grabbed them all, but only when they turned red, little stinker) Luckily,  tomatoes are easy to find at this time of year, so I just get them from my CSA box, farmer’s market or grocery store.

Why eat tomatoes? One medium tomato provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of protein. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin A and C and folic acid. They also contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including lycopene, folic acid and beta-carotene. Consumption of tomatoes has been associated with decreased rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

So how can you incorporate more tomatoes into your diet? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Dip some grape or cherry tomatoes in hummus or yogurt dip for a quick snack.
  • Make a quick bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil on crusty bread for a great appetizer.
  • Always add sliced tomatoes to sandwiches and wraps.
  • Add salsa made with fresh tomatoes (make it yourself! Just dice tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and a squeeze of lime) to omelets or scrambled eggs for breakfast (salsa is my condiment of choice, I put it on everything!)
  • Try this; my favorite breakfast! Whole grain toast with mashed avocados and sliced tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil…yum! Is it breakfast yet?
  • Use canned diced or stewed tomatoes (low sodium) in soups.

My husband and I just returned from an amazing trip to Spain. While in Barcelona, we took a cooking class after visiting the famous La Boqueria farmer’s market, and made the most delicious gazpacho. Traditional gazpacho is a tomato-based, raw vegetable soup traditionally served cold, originating in southern Spain. It is frequently made with tomatoes, onions, peppers (other ingredietns). This one, however, had a delicious twist. We made Strawberry Gazpacho, a true summer delight! Easy, refreshing and tasty! Try it on a hot summer evening as a great starter.

Summer Strawberry Gazpacho (Recipe from Cooking Barcelona)

Ingredients IMG_2633

(4 servings)

2 slices white bread

2 ¾ cups of ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 ¾ cups fresh strawberries, hulled

3 cups of water

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp salt, pepper, to taste

mint leaves

garnishes: cheese, croutons, extra strawberries, mint, edible flowers (optional)

 

  1. Soak the slices of bread in cold water with 2 teaspoons of vinegar for 5 minutes.
  2. Rinse the strawberries, pat  hem dry, hull them and cut in half.
  3. Wash, peel, seed and chop (or cut tomatoes on half and grate them, works great, seeds will blend nicely with tomato juices)
  4. Blend strawberries, tomatoes and mint. Add the soaked bread, but first squeeze to remove excess liquid. Blend well and add water.
  5. Add the olive oil slowly while blending soup to emulsify it.
  6. Season with salt and pepper before chilling the gazpacho in the refrigerator.

 

This soup is best served cold and garnished with small pieces of strawberries, chopped mint, croutons or cheese. In class we even used a few edible flowers…beautiful!

Make sure to eat plenty of tomatoes this summer!

 

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