1. Health Benefits of Tomatoes
In the 17th and early part of the 18th centuries, colonial Americans thought tomatoes were poisonous. But they’re not poisonous at all — in fact, tomatoes are good for you. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin A and potassium and low in calories, which is probably enough to qualify as a nutrient-dense superfood.
Tomatoes are also rich in an antioxidant called lycopene that may reduce damage done by free radicals and has been linked to lower risks of some forms of cancer. Lycopene may also have anti-inflammatory properties that are good for your blood vessels.
One medium-sized raw tomato (2 3/5 inches in diameter) has 22 calories and 1.5 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of potassium, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K. That tomato also has almost no fat, 1 gram of protein and about 4 grams of carbohydrates.
Tomatoes are the kind of superfood I really like. They’re easy to find, easy to prepare and fairly inexpensive. Ready to get inspired to eat more tomatoes? Flip through the slideshow for some of my favorites.
2. Tomato Bruschetta
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Bruschetta is so easy to make — all you need are some tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and bread. I know the best bruschetta is made with white Italian bread, but a high-quality crusty whole-wheat bread would be a healthier option.
- Tomato Bruschetta
- Balsamic and Basil Bruschetta
- Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella (and it’s low in calories)
3. Caprese Salad
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A Caprese salad includes tomato, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. You already know that tomatoes are good for you, and as far as cheese goes, mozzarella’s a reasonably healthy choice. It’s lower in fat that most other types of cheese and it’s an excellent source of calcium.
4. Pasta Puttanesca
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Puttanesca sauce is made with tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic. Some recipes call for fresh tomatoes and some use canned. Either is fine — and, in fact, canned tomatoes contain more lycopene than fresh tomatoes.
5. Grilled Tomatoes
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You might think that tomatoes are too delicate to be cooked on a grill, but they hold up just fine. Grilling intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes and really all you need is a little salt and pepper, plus a few minutes on the grill and you have a great side dish. Or you can use them in your favorite soups and sauces.
6. Corn and Tomato Salad
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Corn is an excellent source of fiber and potassium, and avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats. For this salad, combine one cup cold cooked corn, one cup sliced cherry tomatoes, and the diced flesh of one avocado. Add a little fresh basil, salt, and pepper and that’s all you need, but a little vinegar and olive oil might be nice too. Or try one of these:
- Corn, Cucumber, Tomato Salad
- Low Fat Corn, Black Bean, and Tomato Salad
- Corn, Tomato, and Basil Salad
7. Stuffed Tomatoes
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Big round tomatoes have the perfect shape for stuffing. Slice off the top and scoop out the mushy pulp. Then add the filling of your choice. These tomatoes are stuffed with couscous, olives, and feta cheese – you’d need about 3 cups of cooked couscous and maybe 1/2 cup of sliced olives and 1/2 cup feta cheese, plus a tablespoon or two of your favorite herbs. Just stuff your tomatoes and serve cold. And try these recipes, two are hot, and one is cold:
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I know you can buy jars of salsa in your local grocery store, but nothing beats salsa made with fresh ingredients. You can serve your salsa with baked tortilla chips or use it as a topping for grilled chicken, fried eggs, or baked potatoes.
9. With Salmon and Greens
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How’s this for a healthy salad? Start with greens, like this watercress and add a few chunks of cold cooked salmon and slice tomatoes. A little olive oil, salt, and pepper and it’s served. This is a great way to use leftover salmon from last night’s dinner. Or try these salads:
- Tuna and Spinach Salad
- Arugula Salad with Corn, Potatoes and Seared Tomatoes
- Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula
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Gazpacho is a cold soup made with tomatoes and lots of healthy vegetables. Make a batch and keep it in your refrigerator for when you need a refreshing snack.
11. A Healthier Pizza
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The typical pepperoni and sausage pizza with extra cheese is loaded with fat, sodium and calories, and it just isn’t good for you. But, if you go a little lighter on the cheese and load your pizza with veggies you can tame the calorie count and get some good nutrition. Of course, portion control is key here too — don’t eat the whole pie — just a slice or two along with a tasty green salad is perfect.
12. Quick and Easy Salad
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Here’s a super simple superfood side salad that you can have on the table in less than ten minutes. Just combine some broccoli florets, chunks of tuna (canned tuna is fine), sliced cherry tomatoes, a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. I think a little bit of fresh basil might be nice too. Or try one of these quick, easy salads:
13. Roasted Tomatoes
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Roasting enhances the flavor of almost any vegetable by caramelizing the natural sugars. Oh, and yes I know that technically tomatoes are fruits, but they’re often categorized as a veggie when it comes to cooking. Tomatoes can be roasted alone or combined with other things like zucchini, onions, and peppers. It’s not difficult — just cut your tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Toss them in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and any seasonings you like and then lay them, cut side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 minutes. Or you can try one of these recipes:
- Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes With Parmesan Cheese
- Canning Roasted Tomatoes
- Baked Tomatoes with Cheese and Fresh Herbs
14. Tomatoes with Green Beans
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This is such a pretty side dish with the rich dark green combined with red and yellow cherry tomatoes. It’s easy, too. Just toss a few cherry tomatoes in the pot with your cooked green beans and let them sit just long enough to warm up and then serve. Sun dried tomatoes work nicely for this dish too.
15. Tomato Soup
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Oh, I know you can buy tomato soup in a can and it’s not bad, but homemade tomato soup is so much better. It’s not as quick to make, but you’ll still have your soup ready in less than an hour. Try any of these recipes:
16. Tomato, Cucumber and Basil Salad
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Here’s a fantastic salad for summer. It’s low in calories and so refreshing. I think it’s nice in the winter too, served alongside salmon or chicken. To make this salad, cut a pint of cherry tomatoes in half and thinly slice a cucumber or two. Toss them all together with a cup or so of fresh basil leaves. Serve as it is or toss with a simple vinaigrette.
United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. “Basic Report: 11529, Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average.” Accessed April 13, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3223.