Saturday, October 2, 2010

You say tomato, I say yes, thanks


Tribune correspondent
Published: October 2, 2010
Study after study confirms that the tomato is beneficial for good health. But besides that, it just plain tastes good in all its many forms.

Experts tell us that tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants, including lycopene, essential for healthy blood and tissue. Doctors say lower levels of lycopene can be associated with higher body weight, aging and smoking.

Even people who say they don't care for raw tomatoes usually enjoy ketchup, tomato sauce and other products containing the fruit. And, yes, tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. According to the Oxford dictionary, the discrepancy arose between scientists and cooks. Scientifically, the tomato is definitely a fruit. But as far as cooking is concerned, tomatoes are usually called vegetables because they're used in more savory dishes as opposed to sweet dishes such as fruit pies.

Here are some ways to incorporate more tomatoes into your daily diet:

Discover gazpacho. This tomato-based soup is enjoyed worldwide. It contains a variety of raw vegetables and is typically served cold. Some recipes call for simple ingredients, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Others load up on herbs, spices and additional vegetables. To find a recipe, simply do a search of gazpacho and take your pick.

Lose the bread, add the tomato slices. Take a large, thick slice of tomato, spread with mustard, add some lean turkey, cucumber, green pepper and avocado, then top with another large, thick tomato slice and you've got a "sandwich" that will not only taste great and keep you satisfied, but will also save hundreds of calories and empty carbs you would have had with bread. (OK, it'll be messy, but yum!)

Stuff 'em. Most foods taste great stuffed into a tomato - cooked or raw. If you're a meat-eater, stuff tomatoes with the same ground beef mixture you would use to make hamburgers and bake until cooked. If you enjoy tuna, chicken or egg salads, or rice dishes, you can stuff those into tomatoes and eat them raw or baked.

Jackie Silver is the founder and president of Aging Backwards, LLC, and author of "Aging Backwards: Secrets to Staying Young." Send your questions or comments to: Sign up for her free newsletter at:


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