During National Nutrition Month, Make it better with Tomatoes

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Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, registered dietitians encourage Americans to fill their plate with nutritious foods and to celebrate eating for your health. This year, the theme is to “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”, which is perfectly in-line with the Tomato Wellness message of making it better. 

Unfortunately many people still view health-promoting food to be about as bland and boring as chomping on alfalfa sprouts or snacking on steamed broccoli. But the food and nutrition industry has come such a long way. No longer are the categories “health food” and “delicious food” disconnected – they belong in the same category. And as a registered dietitian and self-proclaimed foodie, I can fully attest to this. I take pride each night in preparing delicious meals for my family that are also good for our long-term health.

When you add tomato products such as canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, or salsa into your recipes, you’re not only making them better from a nutrition standpoint, you’re making them better from a taste standpoint, too. And then, I can go one step further. When you use tomato products in place of fresh tomatoes, you’re giving your body a powerful dose of lycopene – a potent antioxidant that actually becomes more bioavailable when cooked. This is a good thing, considering that lycopene may be behind the growing list of health benefits nutrition researchers have linked to tomato consumption, including lower inflammation and oxidation levels, improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels, bone health, protection from ultraviolet damage, prostate cancer prevention, and improved mood. So, as a food lover and as someone who spends my days pouring over the latest in nutrition research, I love advocating for tomato products.

Here are a few simple strategies you can use in your kitchen to make it better with tomatoes:

  1. Start with breakfast. Add canned tomatoes to your scrambled eggs or tofu, top your breakfast burrito with a healthy scoop of salsa, or serve warm whole canned tomatoes as a side on your breakfast plate – it’s a favorite in the United Kingdom!
  2. Continue with lunch. Add diced canned tomatoes to your standard egg salad, pile salsa, black beans, and avocado on leafy greens for a healthy Southwestern spin, or simply opt for a bowl of tomato soup with a side of hearty whole grain bread – it’s a nourishing meal that never gets old!
  3. Finish up with dinner. Turn on your slow cooker, and make some of these incredibly nutritious and tasty dinners. The best part is that your slow cooker does all the work for you so you’ll have more time to spend playing with your kids, reading a book, or taking a well-deserved nap.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna {from Eating Well Magazine}

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes {from Real Simple}

Slow-Cooker Moroccan Lentil Stew {from Eating Well Magazine}

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup {from Skinny Taste}

Crockpot Chickpea Curry {from Savvy Vegetarian}

4.    Snack on. When your 3pm sugar-low hits, opt for a nutrient-packed snack. Stir diced canned tomatoes into your hummus or Greek yogurt and enjoy with freshly cut veggies or whole grain crackers.

5.    Sip your tomatoes, too. Skip the sugary soda and fruit punch – and choose water or the occasional glass of tomato juice. At only 40 calories per 1 cup serving, it’s a nice beverage choice to enjoy on occasion. You can also experiment and make your own veggie juice by combining carrots, celery, tomato juice, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

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