Why your tomatoes need fat

Summer is here and the produce is over-flowing! I love this time of year because it is SO vegetable driven. Simple preparations yield amazing results as long as your produce is lovingly grown and ripe. These are my five can’t-get-enough-of fruits and veggies:

Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, mint and cilantro are all in season now. They are bursting with vitamin C, chlorophyll and are highly detoxifying. There are dozens of ways to use them, but a few of my favorites are:

  • Add a small handful to a smoothie or salad
  • Make pesto. Try different combinations. Cilantro pairs nicely with pumpkin seeds. Parsley goes well with almonds.
  • Or as the salad itself as in tabbouleh or this beet salad

Tomatoes: the red, orange or yellow pigments in tomatoes (and other veggies) are known as carotenoids. In tomatoes, the most potent carotenoid is lycopene and is strongly associated with a decrease in prostate cancer. Not that women should shy away from tomatoes, though! Eating a diet high in carotenoids is associated with decreased cardiovascular and cancer risk.

The trick here is that carotenoids are best absorbed with fat, so be sure to eat your tomatoes with avocado or….you guessed it...some extra virgin olive oil! They're a nutritional match made in heaven.

Berries: are rich in anthocyanins. This class of chemicals is what gives the red, blue, and purple color to these fruits and are helpful in reducing inflammation, making sure our cells communicate in a healthy and normal way, and can be good at preventing cognitive impairment. Most anthocyanins stay intact with cooking, so go ahead and make blueberry sauce or an oat cobbler in addition to eating them fresh from the basket.

Good healthy gut flora is key in breaking down and utilizing these beneficial compounds. In that case, berries with unsweetened kefir (dairy or nondairy) would be a nice combination.

Peaches: sweet peaches are such a juicy treat in summer. They are high in vitamin C and vitamin A (as seen in the yellow pigment) and a good source of potassium. Because they are thin skinned, seek out organic whenever possible.

Cucumbers: In the heat of the summer, cucumbers are a wonderfully cooling food. They're high in water, so can help with hydration, but also help normalize bowel function by providing both insoluble and soluble fiber to promote easy digestion. Best to leave the skin on to get maximum benefit. Try adding cucumbers and mint to water for a refreshing drink or grate into tzatziki sauce.

What is your favorite summer vegetable? Definitely keep an eye out for recipes coming up with these foods and other summer produce. 

Hope you're staying cool and getting outside to enjoy blue skies!