November 30

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Paint Your Holiday Table Red!

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by Sharon Palmer, RD

The holiday season is upon us, along with the plethora of traditional treats and goodies that tempt our indulgence and expand our waistlines.  Many of us may find that we typically gain a few unwanted pounds through the holidays, but this year can be different!  By incorporating delicious and nutritious tomato products into your meals, you can decorate the holidays with nutrition and health.

Give the Gift of Health

Tomato products can add delicious flavor, nutrition and festivity to your holiday dishes, without extra calories.  By serving your loved ones dishes that contain tomato products, you bestow upon them the greatest gift of all, good health.  Tomato products are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber—all in a low-fat and low-calorie package.  In fact, one cup of canned tomatoes contains 41 calories, 0 grams fat, 2.4 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, 37% Daily Value (DV) vitamin C, 8% DV vitamin A, 9% DV vitamin K, 13% DV iron, 13% DV potassium, and 9% DV manganese.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, tomato products are rich in the powerful antioxidant group, carotenoids, which inactivate free radicals, protect against cancer, and slow the development of atherosclerosis.  The most plentiful carotenoid is lycopene, and tomato products are responsible for more than 80% of the lycopene in the U.S. diet.  Lycopene in processed tomatoes is much better absorbed than that of fresh tomatoes.  In addition, lycopene in tomatoes appears to have synergistic effects with other nutrients in foods.

 

On the Holiday Menu: Health Protection.  

By painting your holiday table red, you can add health-protecting power to your dishes.  The health benefits of eating more tomato products include protection against oxidative stress, reduction of inflammation, lower rates of cardiovascular disease, improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure control, defense against sun damage, improved bone health, and protection against some forms of cancer, such as prostate.  And by upping your serving of fiber-rich tomato products, you can help increase your sense of fullness at meal time in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Go ahead, include lots of tomato products during the holiday season, including hearty tomato-based soups, tomato dips and salsas for party trays, pilafs and side-dishes featuring tomatoes, pasta dishes, and Mexican favorites such as tamales and enchiladas.  For starters, try this recipe for Tomato and White Bean Bruschetta on a Grilled Baguette for a holiday appetizer that is sure to please everyone.

Sharon Palmer, RD

Tomato and White Bean Bruschetta on a Grilled Baguette

Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 5 minutes

Start your meal off right with this uber-healthy take on bruschetta. Save time, but don’t skimp on nutrition by incorporating canned, chopped tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz.) can petite cut diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup small canned white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon snipped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic + 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 12 to 16 baguette slices
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Drain tomatoes in a fine mesh strainer and place in a medium bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes then drain off any accumulated liquid. Stir in beans, olive oil, vinegar, rosemary and minced garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. Rub the cut side of the garlic onto baguette slices and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Grill over medium heat for a minute or 2 on each side or until nicely grill marked and crisp. Remove and let cool. Place equal amounts of tomato mixture on each baguette slice and top with pine nuts and Parmesan. Makes 12 to 16 appetizers.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories: 110, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 410mg, Potassium: 65mg, Carbohydrates: 17g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 4g.

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