Simple Swaps with Tomato Products for your Summertime Gatherings


by Sharon Palmer, RD

Two times of year always seem to be packed with social events.  The holidays, of course, are filled with family dinners, work potlucks, and other seasonal celebrations, but the summer time isn’t far behind in terms of gatherings and social events. The months of July and August have a unique way of bringing people together; with weddings, barbeques, picnics, and outdoor concerts, the summer months are packed with friends, family, fun, and yes…food.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine any type of social gathering without food as the focal point; and tomato products play an important accessory component. Whether it’s ketchup on your hamburger or veggie burger at the baseball game, salsa on your fish tacos at the beach, or tomato paste in your Smoky BBQ Beans, tomato products really do make the perfect accompaniment to any summertime meal.

Even Michael Pollan, who is arguably one of the most influential individuals in the food industry has been quoted for giving canned tomatoes some kudos. “I use, you know, canned tomatoes all the time and canned chickpeas and frozen spinach. These are these one- or two-ingredient processed foods. I think they’re wonderful,” said Pollan in a recent interview.

What’s even more impressive about tomato products is that, while they undoubtedly seem to be a crowd pleaser, they pack in some serious nutritional punch into your summertime party platter. Loaded with disease-fighting and skin-protective lycopene, you really can’t beat tomato products for flavor and taste. An easy way to be good to both your taste buds and your waistline is to load up on the tomato products and reduce the portion of ingredients high in saturated fat and cholesterol in your favorite recipes.

When it comes to tomatoes, the options are really endless. It’s easy to make simple swaps in most of your favorite recipes.  Try one of these 3 simple swaps this summer:

  1.      Use half the amount of ground beef or turkey in your recipe for homemade tacos and pile on an extra serving of diced tomatoes or salsa.
  2.      Go easy on the cheese and pepperoni on your pizza and instead ask for extra veggies, such as mushrooms, spinach, and tomato sauce.
  3.      Skip the processed cheese sauce for your nachos and instead, turn to salsa.

Another idea? Try this recipe for Healthy 7 Layer Dip below. By using just a little bit of cheese, skipping the refried beans, substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, and piling on the tomato products, you end up with a healthy, flavorful, and completely satisfying appetizer.




1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can diced tomatoes

2 avocados, mashed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup salsa

1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt


  1. Spread the beans into the bottom of a medium sized bowl.
  2. Spread the diced tomatoes on top of the beans, followed by the mashed avocado, ½ of the shredded cheese, salsa, and Greek yogurt. Top with the remaining cheese.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

Enjoy with whole grain tortilla chips.

Nutritional Analysis per serving:

Calories 253; Fat 12.8g; saturated fat 4.3g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 16.5; Sodium 377mg; Carbohydrates 25.6; Fiber 8.8g; Sugar 3g; Protein 12.5g