By Danielle Pothier, MS, RD, CHWC, Wellness Specialist, Northwestern Lifestyle Medicine & Johanna Setta, Food Access Coordinator, Healthy Roots Collaborative

Nutrition Spotlight! Tomatoes are powerhouses when it comes to their nutritional content.  One medium tomato provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate (including 1 gram of fiber), 30% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C and 30% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A. Tomatoes are also a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant which gives tomatoes their red color. Tomatoes account for 80% of lycopene consumption in the average diet and several studies have linked lycopene with cancer prevention. Cooked tomato products contain the most lycopene. One cup concentrated tomato product, like tomato sauce contains almost 25mg of lycopene, compared to 4mg of lycopene in one fresh tomato. However, that doesn’t mean that you should only eat cooked tomatoes. There are so many things that one can do with tomatoes. They can be diced, sautéed, stewed, grilled, broiled, stuffed, made into sauce and more. The possibilities are endless:

  • Add to salads and sandwiches
  • Enjoy tomatoes with toast, egg and cheese
  • Sliced tomatoes with basil, sliced mozzarella, chopped garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Top tomato slices with cottage cheese and dash of salt and pepper
  • Make a quick salsa; add onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime juice
  • Add to rice, beans, quesadillas, soups, or tacos
  • Make some delicious: Cherry Tomato, Corn and Bean Salad: Find the recipe here!

 

Growing and Harvesting. Did you know there are over 1,000 varieties of tomatoes. Tomatoes are technically a fruit. Tomatoes generally do best when they are grown in small pots and transplanted in May or June. The fruit will be ready to harvest approximately two months after planting. Tomatoes are challenging to grow because a lot of things like to eat them and they are susceptible to disease.

Storing. Tomatoes should be storied in your kitchen at room temperature, out of direct sunlight to maintain quality. If you have an overripe tomato, go ahead and put them in the fridge for one or two days until you area ready to eat them. If you grew too many tomatoes this year, don’t worry, they can easily be turned into salsa, tomato sauce, or even freshly frozen. Freezing is easy. Rinse, hull, and place in a labeled freezer bag, take out all of the excess air and stick and close. Place in freezer and enjoy for 8-12 months!

Looking to buy some tomatoes? Find them at your local Farmers Market, in your CSA share, or at a local Farm Stand.

Interested in buying Tomatoes in bulk for processing or your restaurant/retail business? Local Russian Heirloom Tomatoes available at $1/lb from Fairfield and Big Beef Tomatoes at $2/lb from Georgia. Call Johanna Setta at 802.524.8947 or email jsetta@nmcinc.org for more details.