(or ‘moon squirters’ / ‘wolf-peaches’ as you might prefer like to call them!)
The cheerful tomato has enjoyed a well-deserved share of health acclaim in recent years with a series of studies uncovering their uniquely powerful qualities. Once known as the slightly harmful sounding ‘wolf peach’ (translation of their ancient Latin name ‘lycopersicon’) and re-named ‘moonsquirters’ by Charlie’s famous sister Lola (check out Lauren Child’s ‘I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato’ if you’re confused or intrigued!), we now know for sure that tomatoes pack a powerful punch of nutrients into their juicy red flesh.
Tomatoes are a useful source of antioxidants, in particular, the antioxidant-rich carotenoid, lycopene which may help to support prostate health, protect the skin and eyes from sun damage and help to reduce the risk of cancer. A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also found organic tomatoes to have a higher content of polyphenol-rich antioxidant compounds such as rutin, quercetin and naringenin than those grown non-organically. Great source of vitamin C too, tomatoes are a potential powerhouse of immune-boosting protective nutrients.
About as versatile as they come, tomatoes can pretty much be eaten any way you like, and are a particularly useful addition for kids’ diets too, being so rich in immune-supporting vitamin C. Since there’s so many different ways to include more tomatoes into your diet, here’s a bit of inspiration to get you going…
Ten Ways With Tomatoes….
1) Raw as a snack – Try a little bowl of brightly-coloured cherry tomatoes or cheese & cherry tomato raw mini kebabs on cocktail sticks
2) Roasted on their own or with other vegetables for a delicious side dish
3) Pureed in soup – I love roasted tomato & red pepper soup for an antioxidant-packed boost
4) Brilliant as a base for many different types of sauce to accompany pasta, from simple tomato & basil or tomato & mascarpone to family favourites such as Italian Bolognese
5) Stuffed tomatoes – can be as simple or as extravagant as you like; I like parmesan in mine!
6) Homemade ketchup, beans & chutney for super healthy homemade versions of British favourites
7) Chopped in salad – Perfect as the main attraction in tomato, mozzarella & basil salad or as part of a much bigger variety of finely chopped salad vegetables – either way they shine!
8)Home dried tomatoes are an intense flavour addition to lots of dishes; you easily find jars or packets of dried versions if you haven’t the time to do your own
9) Organic tinned tomatoes are the perfect base for family favourites such as homemade curry & chilli, pizza toppings & ratatouille
10) Combined with olive oil, garlic and basil for a Mediterranean inspired Bruschetta topping – enjoyed indoors or alfresco, you decide. Delicious!
I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato – Child, Lauren
Vallverdú-Queralt A, Jáuregui O, Medina-Remón A, Lamuela-Raventós RM. Evaluation of a Method To Characterize the Phenolic Profile of Organic and Conventional Tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2012;60:3373–3380