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veggie of the month - tomatoes

October Veggie of the Month: Tomatoes

The October Vegetable of the Month is Tomatoes!

This fruit is amazing…wait, fruit? That’s right, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but most people consider them part of the vegetable family because of their hearty flavor. Remember, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, it’s good for you! Aim for 5 – 9 fruits and vegetables each day!

Did you know…

  • Tomatoes are chock full of essential Vitamins C, A, and B6, along with iron, potassium, manganese, and fiber.
  • One cup of canned tomatoes contains only 41 calories and no fat.
  • Tomatoes are rich in powerful antioxidants called carotenoids that protect against certain types of cancers and slow the development of atherosclerosis (plaque associated with hardening of arteries).
  • The most abundant type of carotenoid found in tomatoes is lycopene. Foods high in lycopene may help reduce the risk for prostate, digestive, and pancreatic cancers. Tomato products are responsible for more than 80% of the lycopene in the U.S. diet.
  • Tomato products also fight inflammation associated with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

9 ways to enjoy tomatoes

  1. Healthy tomato vinaigrette. In a blender combine a chopped tomato, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar (white wine or balsamic), 1 Tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard and your favorite herbs (basil, thyme, etc). Enjoy!
  2. Quick tomato salad. Quarter tomatoes and marinate with onion in your favorite low-fat vinaigrette. Add some sliced cucumber for some extra crunch.
  3. Stuffed tomato. Stuff a tomato with low-fat cottage cheese or with tuna, shrimp or chicken salad. Use the pulp as part of the salad.
  4.  Stewed tomato side dish. Saute 1 small diced onion in 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Mix in dried or chopped fresh basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Add coarsely chopped, peeled tomatoes (about 6) and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5.  Tangy salsa. Make it yourself with chopped fresh tomatoes, finely chopped jalapeño peppers, chopped cucumber, 1 small onion, chopped cilantro and lime juice. Can also be used on top of greens or as a salad by itself. Be creative and add other ingredients such as black beans, corn or chopped olives.
  6. Baked tomato side dish. Slice tomatoes about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until tomatoes are almost soft.
  7. Gazpacho. Finely dice fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onion, and green and/or red peppers. Add to tomato juice with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and a splash of cider vinegar. Ingredients can be added to a blender and pulsed one or two times.
  8. Beyond tomato sauce. Slice fresh tomatoes and top your pizza.
  9. Fresh and sweet. Right off the vine!

Learn more about tomatoes and get an authentic Mexican recipe for fresh tomato salsa with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote tomatoes at your work, school, childcare and in your community!

Sources: Penn State Extension

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!