Do you like tomatoes? Many of us like spaghetti with tomato sauce or a burger topped with a slice of tomato. Fun Fact: Tomatoes are cooked as vegetables but are actually fruits since they have seeds. They’re full of nutrients and can help your body fight illness and disease. Like other types of produce sometimes we don’t really know how to prepare them. That includes tomatoes. They’re certainly healthy and if you eat tomatoes every day you can boost your health—which is a good thing. However, you might be wondering what to do with tomatoes besides adding them to vegetable salads.
The good news is there many ways you can add tomatoes to your diet. Some basics are eating them plain with a little salt, or making a refreshing tomato juice that’s like V8. However, it’s easy to get tired of eating a particular food ingredient the same way over and over again. The key is to know some new ways to eat more tomatoes. One option was the title of a 1991 movie: “Fried Green Tomatoes.” The key is to get some good ideas about how to eat more tomatoes. Then pick the ones you like the best and start adding them to your daily routine.
Why Should You Eat Tomatoes?
It goes without saying that we should eat more fruits and vegetables. However, some like tomatoes are certainly worth considering since they’re “superfoods.” Most of us know that tomatoes are healthy but it’s less obvious than carrots with high Vitamin A levels, for example. Here are the big benefits of tomatoes:
1. Calories and Fat
A small raw tomato is 95% water and has about 20 calories. This is a plus since you can eat lots of them and won’t have to worry about gaining tons of weight. If you maintain a 2,000-calorie daily diet eating a small amount of tomatoes won’t be a problem.
These green or red fruits are also low-fat. A small tomato has just 0.2 grams of fat. This is a small fraction of 44-77 grams of fat recommended for a 2,000 calorie diet.
2. Vitamins and Minerals
Tomatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals. It’s a good source of Vitamin B9 (folate) and C. You can also get the mineral potassium that’s helpful for blood pressure and heart health.
This is stuff that helps to keep away illness and even disease. Tomatoes include various antioxidants. There’s Lycopene, which is red in color and provides many health benefits based on studies.
There are other antioxidants in tomatoes. That includes Beta carotene that gives food a yellow or orange color. In the body, this antioxidant turns into Vitamin A.
4. Health benefits
Tomatoes can provide several health benefits. Many studies show tomatoes can help to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Tomatoes also seem to help prevent certain kinds of cancer like stomach and lung.
Tomatoes are also good for skin health. It has groups of chemicals that might help to prevent sunburns. This includes tomatoes and tomato products like paste. So, tomatoes can be a natural sunscreen!
What to Do with Tomatoes
Can you make better butter? You can mash some tomatoes into it. This is great for sandwiches, grilled meats/veggies, etc. and adds flavor.
There’s a good chance you’ve had tomatoes in salads. You have options like slices of big tomatoes or whole cherry tomatoes. They add flavor and color.
You can add them to your stir-fry dishes to make them saucier or add some color. You could add them at the beginning or end of the cooking.
The inside can include stuff like bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, and pepper. They bake up in about 30 minutes.
This beats chewy sun-dried tomatoes. You can add these tomatoes to BLT sandwiches and pasta to add some pizzazz.
6. Grilled Cheese
This ingredient makes your comfort food even better. A good pairing is cheddar or you could mix a few easy-melting kinds of cheese.
This is a Southern Italy recipe that includes ingredients like olive oil, dried chili peppers, sea salt, and country bread.
8. Scrambled Eggs
Jump-start your morning. Make sure to pick a juicy or firm tomato for different textures.
One option is a fresh salsa that includes tomatoes and ingredients like parsley, mint, and cilantro. You can use it to flavor grilled meats.
This is tomato juice 2.0. it’s a good way to blend the ingredients better and add flavor.
You can stack the tomatoes with stuff like cheese, garlic, onion, and pine nuts. Pick and choose the ingredients you want to customize the stack.
12. Tomato Sauce
Forget the stuff in cans/jars. You can make your own tomato sauce for any kind of pasta. Then just sauté with a little garlic.
There’s the basic hot tomato soup. Another option is an Italian cold tomato soup with olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Tips for Cooking with Tomatoes
Besides trying out new recipes it’s important to follow some basic prep/cooking tips. This will help to get the best results when working with tomatoes.
- Make sure to use a serrated knife instead of a flat-edged knife. This helps to prevent the fruits from getting bruised/squashed when you slice the tomato flesh.
- Tomatoes have a high acidic content. However, if their acidity is sky-high you have some options. Sprinkle them with a little salt or sugar to make them less cringe-worthy. Another option is baking soda (1/4 teaspoon/gallon of tomatoes).
- Make tomato sauces using plum tomatoes. Others like grape and cherry are better for eating raw tomatoes.
- Herbs work well with tomatoes. Some good options include oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, pepper, celery, and parsley.
- Fresh isn’t’ always best. If tomatoes at your local supermarket are too soft and lack flavor then consider canned tomatoes. This can actually make your dishes better.
- Don’t cook tomatoes with an aluminum pan, pot, or utensil. The reason is the aluminum doesn’t mix well with the tomatoes and makes them taste more bitter. They’ll also be less bright red. There’s more! The tomatoes can actually stain or pit the cookware because of the acid.
- Tomatoes add to the cooking time of dishes due to the high acid content. It’s a natural process so there’s nothing to worry about. For example, beans can take up to 20% more time.
- When baking with tomatoes make sure to use a muffin tin to support them. Tomatoes like bell peppers are good for stuffing. However, since they’re softer it’s important to provide more stability when baking so they don’t fall apart in the oven.
- Bonus Tip: If you get sprayed by a skunk use tomato juice to reduce the smell of the stinky spray. It’s another idea about what to do with tomatoes.