It’s British tomato fortnight starting today, so we thought we’d celebrate this jewel of a vegetable
Or fruit if you want to be technical about it.
Tomatoes are the fruit of the vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas, and not vegetables at all!
Tomatoes come in a large variety of shapes and sizes from big beef tomatoes to oval shaped plum tomatoes to cherry tomatoes. They come on the vine, loose, tinned and dried, and are probably one of the most used vegetables in cooking today.
The recent re introduction of heirloom tomatoes means that we also see them in all sorts of colours and even stripy!
So, are they good for you?
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, but their most potent nutrient by far is lycopene, with an 80g portion giving you:
• 138% of your RDA (recommended daily amount) for raw tomatoes • 220% of your RDA when made into a sauce
And an outstanding 307% of your RDA for just 10g of sundried tomatoes!
That’s all well and good I hear you saying but what is lycopene and what does it do?
Lycopene is a carotenoid (carotenoids are the yellow, orange and red pigments that plants create) phytochemical.
Carotenoids are best absorbed with fat in a meal. Chopping, puréeing, and cooking carotenoid-containing vegetables in oil generally increases the bioavailability of the carotenoids they contain*.
So, make free with that olive oil!
What does it do?
• Studies have shown that higher intakes of lycopene (mostly found in tomatoes and tomato products) may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer*
• Studies have shown that people with a higher intake of carotenoids in particular lycopene, suggests a reduction in the risk of lung cancer*
• Other studies have shown that high levels of carotenoids in the blood reduce the chance of heart disease caused by thickening of the arteries*
A few tomato rich recipes to celebrate British tomato fortnight
There are numerous tomato recipes on CheckYourFood, I’ve picked our favourite 5 tomato rich recipes for you, starting with:
This super tart has a great combination of nutrients that will look after your heart and bones, give you energy and may protect against allergies and some types of cancer.
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 60 Mins Allergens: Gluten, Milk
Ingredients 15g fresh basil leaves 320g Ready rolled puff pastry 30ml Rapeseed oil 300g Red onions sliced Salt and pepper to taste 400g Organic tomatoes
Tomato soup is one of the best comfort foods and this one has a good dose of vitamin A, fibre, vitamin C and vitamin K along with the lycopene. Sprinkle with some torn basil leaves for a flavour boost.
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 25 Mins Allergens: Sulphur dioxide, Celery, Gluten, Sulphur dioxide
Ingredients 1g/2 bay leaves 70g/1 small carrot 100g/1 celery stick 100ml of cider vinegar 30g/2 tbsp olive oil 100g/1 medium onion Salt and pepper to taste 1kg ripe tomatoes 12g/2 tsp tomato purée 1.2 litres veg stock made up with 2 stock cubes 12g/2tsp sugar
This is a fabulous sauce to use as a base for other ingredients. Try adding chopped fried bacon and chilli flakes for an amatriciana, or capers and anchovies for a puttanesca or minced beef for a Bolognese.
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 120 Mins Allergens: Gluten, Celery
Ingredients 20g/handful of basil leaves 1g/3 bay leaves 140g/2 carrots 100g/2 celery sticks 75ml/5 tbsp olive oil 200g/2 onions Salt and pepper to taste 300g spaghetti 400g tin of tomatoes 30g/2 tbsp tomato purée 500ml/1 glass of water
A Spanish inspired one pot meal to support your growth, development, reproduction, metabolism and normal thyroid function along with helping the healthy duplication of your DNA.
Serves: 2 Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 25 Mins Allergens: Sulphur dioxide, Milk, Lactose, Fish
Ingredients 300g/3 cod fillets 1 can butter beans 1 can tomatoes 4 rashers of streaky bacon 110g/1 medium red onion 10g/handful of chopped parsley 80ml/good slug of dry white wine Big pinch of salt ½ tsp black pepper 20g Parmesan, shaved 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Click here for the method and full nutrition
Chicken stuffed with goats’ cheese & cherry tomatoes
A great light supper for your cell health, energy production and keeping the acid/alkaline balance of your body healthy
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 30 Mins Allergens: Sulphur dioxide, Milk, Lactose
Ingredients 600g/4 chicken breasts 150g hard goats’ cheese 500g cherry tomatoes 4 slices prosciutto 150g red onion quartered 10g/bunch thyme 250ml/lge glass white wine 25ml olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
RDAs (recommended daily amounts) based on an average adult
* Reference: LPI science on Lycopene - this link leads to a site provided by the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) at Oregon State University (OSU). CheckYourFood is not affiliated or endorsed by the LPI or OSU
Co-founder, production manager
I'm our communications and marketing person, dealing with social media and copywriting. I also work with Matt and Ric overseeing the design and strategic management of the site.
I'm also the author of the Eva the Hungry Amoeba children's book series (only one so far). You can find it on Amazon.
My favourite foods, shepherds pie and smoked haddock!