When I was growing up, tomatoes were not on the top of my must-eat list. I tolerated them on sandwiches and in salsa but was not jumping at the chance to eat them.
One of my best friends, on the other hand, devoured them. She ate them like apples, with a dash of salt.
As I got older, I discovered the true amazingness of this fruit that acts like a vegetable. A plate of thickly sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and a balsamic drizzle is the perfect afternoon snack. Of course, the addition of fresh mozzarella would make it even more amazing.
April is Fresh Florida Tomato Month and celebrates the local peak harvest time.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat between 22 and 24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year. More than half of that consumption is ketchup and tomato sauce.
But why are tomatoes good for you?
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.
“Tomatoes are also one of the foods that contain the highest amount of lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes and certain fruits and vegetables their color,” said Estela Schnelle, Produce for Kids advisory board member and registered dietician, in an email. “Lycopene has antioxidant capabilities and is very good for the eyes. Research shows that a diet rich in lycopene may be associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.”
The recipes in the box on the right were sent to me by Produce For Kids.
Guacamole Tomato Boats
Serves 2 / preparation time: 15 minutes
What you need:
2 medium tomatoes on the vine
8 tablespoons guacamole
8 tablespoons salsa
4 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
What to do:
Preheat oven to 400° F or turn broiler on high. Wash and dry tomatoes. Slice tomatoes in half, cross section wise, and scoop out the insides, being careful not to puncture/tear the bottom of the tomato half.
With open side of tomato facing up, fill with guacamole, then salsa, and garnish with cheddar cheese. Bake/broil until cheese melts, then remove from oven.
Peach Tomato Salsa
Serves 4 / preparation time: 25 minutes
What you need:
1 medium nectarine peeled and chopped
1 medium peach, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
Additional Meal Items:
1 seedless cucumber, sliced
4 corn tortillas, 6-inch diameter, cut into 8 triangles
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup low-fat milk or juice
What to do:
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium serving bowl, gently combine the tomatoes, peaches and onion. Gently stir in the lime juice, cilantro and salt. Let it set 15 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.
While salsa marinates, place tortilla triangles on a baking pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned.