Who doesn’t love late August, when fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful whether you’ve got the good fortune of harvesting from your own garden, enjoy the local farmer’s market, or find you’re just able to find better produce at better produces at your grocery store? Articles and recipes abound too.
The Washington Post published a whole section on tomatoes, and as a follow-up to my last article “Calling All Tomato Lovers”, we’ll share some.
The summer spaghetti recipe (printed below) sounds divine and “tugboat” appetizers sound divine. There are even whole websites devoted to summer tomatoes! Whew – it’s almost information overload, with ideas for growing, eating and enjoying tomatoes as plentiful as the seeds inside them. But abundance is our Heavenly Father’s way and the delicious, irresistible fruits and veggies of summer, with tomatoes leading, are His party foods!
These two tomato gardening tips from Meridian readers were too good not to pass on:
1. To keep squirrels and others away from our garden, we take the clippings from our boys’ haircuts and sprinkle it around the garden. Also, our girls clean out their hairbrushes and throw it on the mulch around the plants. What can I say – human hair is the ONE thing we’ve found to repel critters and it doesn’t wash away with every rain (like hot pepper spray and vinegar). And
2. Tomatoes love sulfur. If you put a whole raw unbroken egg under each tomato plant as you plant them, the egg will rot, turning to rotten egg, which is sulfur. The shell deteriorates giving up calcium, further helping the tomato grow strong and delicious.
At this time of the year, when fresh fruits and vegetables are so plentiful and delicious, it’s also time to shout “Hooray” for our Heavenly Father’s special chemistry for the human body. The pH balance is a scientific formula that measures the acidity or alkalinity. Though there is a vast science behind how the pH balance works, here it is in simple terms: All foods that we digest release an alkaline ash (bicarbonate) or an acid ash into blood and tissues of the body depending on the mineral compounds that the foods contain. An excessive acid in the body fluids develop when base or bicarbonate is lost.
Many fresh fruits and vegetables — especially those that are richly-colored and have dark leafy greens are alkaline and thus help create a healthy pH balance. Tomatoes (especially when eaten with the skin) are included. For good nutrition we should consume about 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods. Acidic foods come from animal protein, dairy, grains and processed foods,
The best way to create this balance is by eating sufficient alkaline foods, and that’s easy to do in August!
Their overall abundance is, I believe a message from our Heavenly Father that this is what’s best for us.
Here’s a good start to learn more: www.thealkalinefoods.com. A fast, herbal way to create this essential balance, especially after holiday eating (vacations or family reunions anyone?????) or after indulging in acidic or highly refined foods, is by drinking the detox tonic I share at www.MyMiracleTea.com.
Now, we all know that many tomato recipes call for pasta, an acidic food on any chart that we want to minimize to keep within that 20% per day. Here are three simple ways to save those carbs for something more special than just a plate of noodles:
1) Spaghetti squash is an easy, healthy veggie alternative. You can bake or cook on the stove top until tender, then peel to reveal the luscious “noodles” inside it. Delicious!
2) Years ago I discovered that better than even spaghetti squash for me is … shredded cabbage! You can cut it to any thickness for your preferred “noodle” width, from fine (angel hair) to wide (pot pie noodles.) Steam or lightly cook it, and you’ll have the perfect no-carb, practically no-calorie pasta for any sauce. The other thing I like about cooking cabbage “noodles” is that it’s quicker and easier than spaghetti squash, and I can do a little pot for myself if the rest of the family is eating regular noodles. It also refrigerates well: cook up a big pot, and use it throughout the week! I really can’t taste the difference, as noodles don’t have that much taste, and neither does cooked cabbage if you don’t season it.
3) I’m also excited about using summer squash for noodles, This recipe comes from The New York Times Health author Martha Rose Shulman
SUMMER SQUASH NOODLES
2 pounds zucchini (or a combination of yellow and green zucchini)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup tomato sauce (this is optional – but try the one in the recipe below!)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (more to taste)
1. Using a vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into lengthwise ribbons. Peel off several from one side, then turn the zucchini and peel off more. Continue to turn and peel away ribbons until you get to the seeds at the core of the zucchini. Discard the core. You can also do this on a mandolin, adjusted to a very thin slice.
2. Cook the zucchini strips in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the zucchini ribbons and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, tossing and stirring the zucchini, for two to three minutes, until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste, and transfer to a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and zucchini. Serve, topping with tomato sauce and freshly grated Parmesan if desired.
Yield: Serves four
It’s the perfect healthy complement for one of the Washington Post’s top 10 recipes:
The neat thing about this recipe is that it is not served hot, and would even be delicious cold as a salad … perfect and refreshing for a summer supper or picnic!
2 or 3 medium red, ripe summer tomatoes
½ medium red or sweet onion
¼ cup pitted, mixed kalamata and green olives
2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)
¼ cup good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons flavored vinegar (red wine is good)
1- 2 teaspooons sugar (optional to taste depending on sweetness of tomatoes)
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked pasta (4 one-cup servings)
Core the tomatoes, then cut them into large dice. Yield should be about 3 cups. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Finely dice the onion. Coarsely chop the olives, then transfer to bowl along with the capers, (if you are including the capers.) Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a measuring cup until well blended. Season with sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta (either regular pasta or the summer squash noodles from recipe above.)
Let it sit for 10 minutes, then serve with an extra drizzle of the olive oil.
Last of all, I couldn’t resist adding this fun appetizer from the Washington Post article: salmon or tuna stuffed into little plum tomatoes, so they look like little tug boats!
6 ounces canned wild Alaskan pink salmon (or tuna), drained
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels, barely cooked, then cooled
2 tablespoons finely diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 heaping tablespoon regular or low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
6 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Directions: Combine the salmon, corn, green bell pepper, shallot, mayonnaise, turmeric, black pepper, dried parsley and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, stirring until well blended.
Scoop out the seeds and gel from each tomato half and discard them; make sure to leave the walls of the tomato intact. Fill the tomato halves generously with the salmon mixture. Serve right away.
So, bon appétit! Anyway you slice it, the fabulous fruits and veggies, make life sweeter, better and healthier.
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
Read more here: Lysine & Tomato Nutrition