Spotlight on Tomatoes

The tomato has been called the most popular garden vegetable in America. For many years, it was thought to be poisonous and grown for only decorative purposes. Today, tomatoes are eaten raw, sautéed, grilled, stewed and used in a wide variety of recipes and ready-to-eat foods.

We have always been told that tomatoes are good for us. Besides being low in calories, tomatoes are packed with Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and Vitamin A. They are also an excellent provider of lycopene, a cancer fighting nutrient. These health benefits provide good reasons for putting tomatoes on our plate often!

Tomatoes are in season from July – September in Maryland. This is when you will find them the juiciest and most favorable. We can enjoy selecting fresh tomatoes in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes found at the grocery store, the local farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

Beefsteak is one type of tomato.  Beefsteak’s are also known as a “slicers”. This type of tomato is juicy and perfect for eating and adding to sandwiches.  Bush tomatoes are smaller than beefsteaks and are good for salads. Plum or Roma tomatoes are not as juicy and are good for cooking.  Cherry and grape tomatoes are known for their small size. These can be eaten alone or on a salad

For a quick and easy side, try stuffing a tomato.  Scoop out the seeds and fill it with a mixture of chopped summer fruits and vegetables. Use corn, cucumber, bell pepper, green onions, and peaches. Top with a light salad dressing and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Try grilling tomatoes along with your family’s favorite vegetables such as zucchini and corn. Brush the cut side of the tomatoes with olive oil. Add a small amount of oil to the grill grate or grill pan. Place the tomatoes, cut side down on the grill surface. Cover the grill and let cook for about 4 minutes. Then add your favorite seasonings.

Celebrate the tomato this summer by trying additional recipes found at the FSNE “Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland” website.

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall