If the divine nature of homegrown tomatoes defines summer for you, you’ll love today’s fun quotes and quips, amazing facts and a delicious gazpacho recipe.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not so sure that it was an apple that was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. I have a personal hunch that it was actually a homegrown summer tomato that seduced Eve … just like the ones my husband Bob grows each summer. In my favor is the fact that the tomato actually IS a fruit, since a fruit is defined as produce that has seeds inside it. (So actually squash and cucumbers are fruits too, but that’s a story for another day …)
From the time I was just a little girl, there was nothing in the world that tasted better. Now—all these years later–not much has changed! I’m in full agreement with Laurie Colwin who says: “A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins” and Lewis Grizzard who profoundly states: “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Maybe that’s why summer is such a happy time for our family!
You see, Bob’s great tomatoes are legendary in our family. Our two youngest teens are so enamored with their Dad’s beauties that the pathetic store ones bought during the rest of the year must endure their often expressed vocal scorn. “Shhhh! You’re hurting their poor little feelings! They can’t help where they were planted and where they grew up! Don’t talk like that in front of them!” says Bob in mock concern . We all laugh, but it’s true! How difficult it is to enjoy a tomato from the store in the winter.
And into the next generation, our little four and seven year old grandsons, visiting from Texas, picked Grandpa’s tomatoes yesterday. It was a Kodak moment as we selected, plucked from the vine, then brought them in to the kitchen. “What’s that very good smell?” asked four-year old Tate with delight. He’s right! A tomato plant is surely one of God’s finest aromas. I helped them slice them up. Seven-year old Bracken wisely asked for salt and pepper. The looks on their faces as they ate them is what joy and rejoicing your posterity is all about. When they were done, Tate said, “Grandma? How did they get into your yard?” As I explained Heavenly Father’s plan and how they had grown from a seed or a plant with some help from Grandpa, he solemnly asked, “Well, do you think Grandpa could come to Texas and do that for us?” Maybe next spring he will! And if he does, these are his three most important tips:
Three Great Tips for Growing Tomatoes
Now, we’re not fancy gardeners by any means, but we always have beautiful tomatoes, even when our neighbors are unsuccessful. It’s too late to grow tomatoes this year (unless you live in New Zealand like our daughter and are looking forward to Spring come September …) but here are Bob’s techniques that may be helpful come next spring.
1) Location, location, location! That fact is not just for real estate, but for tomato plants. It took us several years to find a spot with the right amount of sun each day. Areas that seemed right “by the books” had either too much or not enough sun, so “if at first you don’t succeed …” try again next year!
2) Bob’s best and most amazing secret trick is crushed egg shells! All year long, we toss those babies (leftover from cooking and baking) into a plastic gallon-sized container stashed under the kitchen sink. By planting time, the container is full. Bob says “Mother’s Day weekend is the perfect time in Virginia” for planting. (Check for your area online or at your favorite garden store.) He buys healthy plants from Home Depot, digs a deep hole, and divides the crushed eggshells between the 12-16 plants he grows each year. He then covers them, makes sure they are well-watered and staked throughout the growing season. He uses old fabric cut into strips to support the plants on the stake. This in itself is always sort of fun as I can see sewing projects from years past blowing in the summer breeze. Then we have the fun of watching them grow like crazy, and the visits outside while we water them in the evening.
3) This was the first year, since we found the right spot that is, that we’ve we had problems. To our great disappointment those tricky squirrels got the first two weeks worth of summer tomatoes. It was a personal exercise in patience and forgiveness for each of us because just as they were ready to be picked, we’d go out and find rosy red abandoned tomatoes on the ground with little bite marks. It turns out there’s a drought this year that leaves our squirrels not hungry but THIRSTY. We toughed out our disappointment while Bob learned to literally stop them in their tracks by tying long strips of fabric that had been soaked in vinegar to the tops of the plants, and draping them around the leaves. Go-Go-Go Bob!
Now, if you’re not interested in reading about the health benefits in the next section, be sure to scroll all the way down for the Gazpacho recipe and an interesting tidbit on tomatoes and Christopher Columbus!
Amazing Health Benefits
As one would expect from this true masterpiece from Heavenly Father, the health benefits match the flavor: And with less than 25 calories in a whole medium tomato and 0 grams of fat, yet loaded with nutrients, how can we go wrong?
Health Benefits of Tomatoes (from www.healthfood-guide.com)
One of the most well known tomato eating benefits is its’ Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases.
Free radicals in the body can be flushed out with high levels of Lycopene, and the tomato is so amply loaded with this vital anti-oxidant that it actually derives its rich redness from the nutrient.
Lycopene is not a naturally produced element within the body and the human body requires sources of Lycopene in order to make use of this powerful anti-oxidant. While other fruits and vegetables do contain this necessary health ingredient, no other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene that the tomato takes pride in.
Studies involving the tomato have cropped up all over the world of medical science. There are more health benefits derived from eating a tomato than the scientific community is able to print, at least yet.
These studies have proven not only the benefits in preventing cancer, heart disease as well as high cholesterol are also in the tomato’s sights.
This is really exciting information. The health benefits of tomatoes are becoming more and more documented every day as we learn new uses of this amazing fruit.
Cancers such as prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and cancers of the stomach, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus have all been proven to be staved off by high levels of Lycopene.
Researchers introduced Lycopene into pre-existing cancer cellcultures and the Lycopene prevented the continued growth of these cultures. This is pretty powerful evidence that the health benefits of eating a tomato are really quite phenomenal.
It takes as little as 540 milliliters of liquid tomato product to get the full benefits of Lycopene. This means that a daily glass of tomato juice has the potential to keep a person healthy for life.
Tomatoes are equally as nutritious fresh as they are in other variable forms. When tomato products are heat processed the bioavailablity of the Lycopene actually increases rather than the anticipated decrease.
Even with all the plentiful research that has gone into the health benefits of tomatoes, there is still more research being conducted as the medical science community understands that we have not fully tapped into the potential presented by a tomato just yet.
Research is now slowly proving that there is a high likelihood that the consumption of tomatoes and tomato based products actually may prevent serum lipid oxidation and reduce the risk of macular degenerative disease.
Tomatoes are among the healthiest of the fruits and vegetables with the power to ward off some of the worst known diseases to man. With the vast variety of tomato products on the market, it really shouldn’t be difficult to get the full health benefit of tomatoes but,if you would like to get the full health benefits of tomatoes and have some fun at the same time, consider raising your own organic tomatoes. It would be a lot of fun, get you outside for some vitamin D and best of all reward you with great taste and vibrant health.”
Christopher Columbus and Gazpacho
Last but not least, here’s one of our favorite recipes. Christopher Columbus, whose crew reportedly suffered from Scurvy caused by a lack of Vitamin C was big on tomatoes for a good reason:
One medium tomato meets 40% of our daily need for vitamin C! Speaking of him, he gets the credit for bringing this recipe to Spain from his travels in the Andes. Then the rest of us got it from Spain. There’s really no wrong way to make this … add what you have! Even some finely shredded cabbage, carrots or green peas or beans (either frozen or from the garden) make wonderful additions.
I make this in big batches. The longer it sits, the better it tastes! The soup is made of veggies and some time fruits may be included too hence the soup is very beneficial for the health. Many nutrients, “vitamins and minerals are obtained from consuming this soup. This delicious cold soup is replete with antioxidants that can fight of heart diseases and cancer. No wonder it’s so popular through the centuries with its light, refreshing and varied taste and benefits received
– Diced medium 1/2 cup of celery
– Red wine vinegar 1/4 cup
– Cumin 1 teaspoon
– Cayenne 1 pinch
– Organic vegetable juice 2 cups (we use Low-Sodium V-8)
– Minced garlic 1 teaspoon
– Diced medium cucumber 2 cups
– Diced medium red onions 2 cups
– Diced medium red bell pepper 2 cups
– Diced tomatoes, ripe and seeded 3 cups
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and marinate for several hours before serving. I like to add 1/4 cup low-cal Italian dressing for extra flavor.
Well, with great gratitude for the miracle of tomatoes, the only thing I could ask for now is the opportunity to sit down to a big bowl of gazpacho or a tomato sandwich with you today!
Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available at Amazon.com Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at www.MyMiracleTea.com