In keeping with my last few posts on cooked, nutrient dense foods I thought it was time to discuss the humble yet amazing tomato.
Tomatoes are far more than just a delicious fruit. Eating tomatoes may help lower your risk of stroke, improve male fertility, and protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. This is likely due to the lycopene they contain.
Lycopene is a carotenoid – a family of pigments that give fruits and vegetables their brilliant red, orange, and yellow coloring and is especially concentrated in tomatoes. Lycopene is another example of a nutrient that is more bioavailable in cooked food than in fresh. Studies have shown that the Lycopene in cooked tomatoes is up to 4 times more available than in raw tomatoes. In fact any sort of processing including freezing helps break down the plant cell walls releasing more lycopene.
Your body can’t make lycopene so you need to obtain it from your diet. Winter is a great time to boost your lycopene intake with tomato soup, tomato based pasta sauces, adding tomatoes to casseroles and stews or simply serving cooked tomatoes as a vegetable. They certainly brighten up your plate as well as your taste buds!
Tomatoes are easy to grow in containers or directly in the garden over the summer months. Their pretty fern-like foliage and bright fruit make them a decorative addition to any part of your garden – not just a veggie patch, so don’t be put off if you’re short of veggie growing space.
One of the best things about growing your own tomatoes is they are easy to freeze for winter. There’s no need to muck around with removing skins or preserving them in jars. I just throw them into bags (not literally) and pop them in the freezer. As they freeze, the skins split, and they end up looking a bit like frozen worn out cricket balls.
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