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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Tomatoes

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Pomme d’amour (love apple) is the name the French assigned to the sensual tomato because they deemed it an aphrodisiac. September marks the end of the summer and the ideal tomato season. Although available year round, tomatoes are at their best from July through September. Coming in more than a thousand varieties and ranging in shape, size, and color – from small cherry tomatoes, to green tomatoes, to vibrant yellow ones – tomatoes are typically thought of as having Italian roots but they actually originate from South America. The first tomatoes were cultivated in Mexico and introduced to Europe when the Spanish conquistadors brought the seeds back to Spain. They became available in North America when the colonists settled in Virginia. Today, the tomato is one of the most popular selling vegetables in the U.S. as well as Italy, Spain, Russia, China, and Turkey.

Tomatoes are a versatile vegetable with many health promoting qualities. A key ingredient in tomatoes is lycopene, a caratenoid with antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties that has been shown to prevent heart disease and promote prostate, breast, pancreatic, colon, and intestinal health. In addition to lycopene, tomatoes are packed with Vitamin C, A, K and beta-carotene and are a rich source of potassium, manganese, Vitamin B (1, 2, 3, & 6), and fiber. Together, these nutrients further help to protect against cell damage and heart disease, promote bone health, reduce migraines, and lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Loaded with a variety of vitamins and nutrients, tomatoes are a one-stop shop to vital health.

When buying tomatoes choose ones with a rich deep hue that signifies optimal taste and the highest amount of lycopene. Avoid bruised, cracked tomatoes with soft spots, wrinkles, or an inflated appearance. Choose smooth skinned ones with a sweet aroma for ideal flavor. Store tomatoes at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. They will keep for about a week depending on the level of ripeness when purchased. To expedite the riping process place them in a paper bag, to slow down maturation place them in the refrigerator but be sure to remove them at least 30 minutes before eating for ideal taste. Chopped or diced in salads or salsas, pureed into a tomato paste, or simply enjoyed with a hunk of creamy mozzarella cheese and a fresh baguette, the tomato is a juicy, subtly sweet, all-around healthy summer treat. Enjoy the tomato now at its finest before it fades like the summer sun.

Stuffed Tomato

1 vine-ripened large tomato

1 slice whole grain bread

Slice of mozzarella cheese (or other preferred type)

Sea salt, pinch

Fresh ground pepper, pinch

Fresh chopped basil, 1 teaspoon

Olive Oil

Toast bread. Chop into small crouton-sized pieces. Scoop out tomato seeds. Stuff tomato with croutons. Sprinkle with fresh basil, sea salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Drape slice of cheese on top.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F until cheese is melted. (*Toaster oven is ideal!)



Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com, or call her at (646) 265-9055 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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