One Vegetable You Have to Eat Year-round
I know I’ve been harping on eating seasonally but there are exceptions! Gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free and vegan are no problem, just don’t ask me to give up tomatoes! These delicious beauties show up at our table year round.
Lycopene is a carotenoid abundant in tomatoes. According to Dr. Joel Furhman, lycopene, a potent antioxidant, is credited with reducing the risk of prostate cancer, reducing UV damage to the skin therefore protecting against skin cancer, and is shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in those with the highest blood levels.
Tomatoes are also a significant source of vitamins A and C, and potassium. A cup of grape tomatoes has just 27 calories making them great for weight loss.
Fresh tomatoes used to be exclusive to summer months but good greenhouse-grown tomatoes are now available year-round. The newer varieties actually have a little flavor. Look for “Tastee Lee” medium sized for slicing or “Kamuto” small, dark green/brown variety for salads or sandwiches. Pints of small grape tomatoes are also available year round and have more flavor than the traditional cherry tomatoes.
Almost as Good as Fresh
This time of year canned tomatoes are a good staple to stock the pantry. Fire-roasted and diced are perfect for soups, sauces, and stews. A tube of tomato paste is a good staple to have on hand for recipes that call for only a spoonful. As an added bonus, cooked tomatoes have more absorbable lycopene.
Stewed, sliced, sauced, dried, or fried, tomatoes rule! Stock up on them this winter and use them liberally. Your body will thank you! Here are two of my favorite tomato recipes to motivate you.
Tomato Basil Bisque
Traditional bisques are very cheesy and creamy. This one is no different except that it is vegan! My carnivore husband says that is tastes as cheesy and creamy as any he has had. You will need a high-speed blender such as a Health Master or Vitamix to make it. You can get nutritional yeast flakes at your health food store or Whole Foods. They are what makes it “cheesy” so don’t skip them. If you must, you can substitute Veggie Parmesan made from rice or soy, but they aren’t as healthy as the yeast flakes.
½ cup of raw cashews
¼ heaping cup of nutritional yeast flakes
½ cup of purified water, more if necessary to blend the nuts
1 jar of organic, sugar-free, tomato basil marinara, I prefer Trader Joe’s brand.
1 can of organic tomato sauce, pureed, crushed, or diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Soak the cashews in clean water for 30 minutes then drain.
Place the nuts, nutritional yeast and water in a high-speed blender and puree until smooth adding more water if necessary to get a smooth consistency.
Place the nut mixture in a large saucepan and add the remaining ingredients and heat over medium heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings and add more water for thinner soup if necessary. Enjoy!
Freezes well and doesn’t separate like traditional “cream” soups.
Four Tomato Pasta
This recipe is loaded with flavor and lycopene. Feel free to use whatever form of tomatoes you like!
1 pkg brown rice pasta cooked al dente, and drained
2 tablespoons sun dried tomato oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (oil can be used above)
1 lb grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
Veggie “Parmesan” cheese sprinkles or nutritional yeast flakes for garnish
Heat sun dried tomato oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the four types of tomatoes and simmer for 20-30 minutes covered with a loose lid or splatter screen, stirring occasionally. Add pasta to sauce, garnish with veggie Parmesan and serve.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—