How do I love thee, tomato? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and might
My palate can reach, when remembering out of sight
Your peak month of August, when you bear fruits of juicy Grace.
The first tomato under cultivation was in Mexico by the Aztecs; tomatoes reached Europe with Columbus after his trip to the mouth of the Orinoco River where he first found them. In Europe the tomato became a bit of a fascination since it was believed to be an aphrodisiac!
But in North America the tomato was believed to be poisonous. It was a member of the Nightshade family and as such a member it was poisonous! This belief held true until 1820 when Col. Robert G. Johnson ate one on the steps of the Boston courthouse. Hundreds had turned out to watch him die after consuming it. But to their surprise he lived!
Today we know that tomatoes are a great source for Vitamins A, C, and E and also a source beta-carotene, as well as the carotenoid lycopene. Lycopene is the reason the fruit is red, recent research has shown the lycopene in tomatoes and other foods may help fight certain types of cancer. Lycopene is one of the most powerful, natural anti-oxidants which has been found to be helpful in the prevention of prostate cancer. This benefit seems to increase with the cooking of the tomatoes.
“Rich in vital nutrients, tomatoes are valuable in a heart-healthy and cancer-preventing diet. These are also high in potassium and low in sodium, which helps combat high BP and fluid retention. Eating tomatoes with avocados, nuts or olive oil is a healthy habit as lycopene is liposoluble (i.e., it is absorbed into the body only along with fats). Also, tomatoes are a low calorie weight loss food,” quoting Garima Sancheti’s post on Facebook on 6-18-11.
Tomatoes also aid in liver function, cleanse the body of toxins, aids the digestion of fatty foods, increases health of the circulatory system, increases the skins ability to protect itself from UV rays, and is being promoted for the treatment of high blood pressure.
The myth of toxicity wasn’t all wrong though…alkaloids are present in all the green parts of the plant and consumption can cause lethargy, vomiting, difficult breathing, prostration, and either constipation or diarrhea! Grazing animals should never be allowed near them. The smell of the leaves should be a signal to warn you of the toxicity…they stink!
You might want to try a simple little recipe for tomatoes and string beans I invented
String beans, snapped, destringed, cleaned and in the amount you need for your family
(I use 2 cups fresh string beans)
Tomato, deseeded, cleaned, and diced
Italian seasoning (to taste)
Bacon, diced up and fried crisp (set aside)
Sautee your string beans in olive oil until they are the tenderness you like
Add the tomatoes, seasonings and bacon
Toss all about two- five minutes allowing the tomatoes to heat
Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve hot. Enjoy!