Brighten Up Your Winter with Tomato Products!
After a warm December, it’s certainly an adjustment to get used to the chilly January air. Overall this winter has been mild so far, but I still find myself daydreaming about warm summer days. It’s hard not to miss the warm, sunny sky, the beach, and of course- an abundance of beautiful, fresh produce. But just winter because is here it doesn’t mean you have to settle for mundane, bland meals. You can actually still enjoy the taste and nutrition of summer all year long- you just have to know where to look!
One of my favorite places to shop during the winter is in the frozen and canned aisles at the grocery store. This might be a surprise to read, especially if you have always thought ‘fresh is best.’ Well, when a fruit or vegetable is in season, fresh is a great option. But during the times of year when that produce is out of season, like in the winter, buying fresh is not always your best option. Why? For starters if you have ever tried to buy out-of-season produce, you know that the prices are sky high. But it goes beyond just the price point. Often, out of season produce is shipped from far away places. The longer the produce sits while it’s being transported, stored, and displayed in the store, the more nutrients it begins to lose. By the time you purchase it, bring it home, prepare it, and eat it, you may be taking in much fewer nutrients than you anticipated.
On the flip side, canned and frozen produce are picked at the peak of ripeness when its nutrient content is rich. Then, thanks to the canning and freezing methods used, most of that rich nutrient content sticks around so when you do get a chance to prepare and eat it, you are getting the health benefits you expected. In some cases, you can actually get more nutrition by selecting canned produce over fresh! This is true especially with tomatoes where research suggests that the lycopene in tomato products, such as tomato paste or ketchup, is as much as 2.5 times more bioavailable to humans that the lycopene in fresh tomatoes. With that in mind, I decided to make a list of the top ways tomatoes can help you to extend the taste and feel of summer all throughout the year:
4 Ways Tomato Products Can Brighten Up Your Winter
#1 – Add a burst of color to your plate
Sometimes I feel like there’s a sense of ‘white overload’ in the winter. I look out the window to see a sheet of white snow on the ground, the streets look white covered in frost and salt, and then I look in my refrigerator and see a sea of white. White potatoes, onions, cauliflower- there’s not a whole lot of color in the winter produce department. Simply by pulling out some canned diced tomatoes from the pantry and pairing them with frozen greens and peppers, I can instantly brighten up my plate. And you know what, a colorful plate instantly makes me feel happy & energized – just like I feel when I step outside on a warm, summer day.
#2 – Give your palate a taste of summer
In the summer, I can pick tomatoes and cucumbers straight from the garden and enjoy a fresh, delicious salad before digging into a meal packed full of grilled vegetables. But in the winter, that sea of ‘white foods’ can leave my taste buds feeling a bit bored. What better way to kick up the flavor of my meals and enjoy a taste of summer than by mixing frozen and canned fruits and vegetables? If you close your eyes while eating, you can almost hear the beach!
#3 – Rev up your immune system
I enjoy winter, I really do. The freshly fallen snow is so pretty to look at and sleigh riding and skiing are some of my favorite winter activities. But do you know what I hate during the winter? Staring out the window at the snow wishing I could go play in it while fighting off a nasty cold, or worse- the flu! Yes, winter is definitely the season of germs, so boosting your immune system as much as possible is as much of a necessary as bundling up when you go outdoors. That’s one of the reasons why I try to make sure to fit in antioxidant rich tomatoes to my diet on a regular basis. In fact, just one cup of tomato paste provides 96% of your daily vitamin C needs. So who needs oranges when you can enjoy tomato products all winter long?
#4 – Fight against winter weight gain
It’s no secret that wintertime can be an easy time of year to gain weight. It starts with the holiday season and then continues as we just want to bundle up and hibernate on the couch instead of getting up and getting active. One of the best ways to prevent weight gain this time of year is to focus on filling your plate with high volume, low calorie foods. I always recommend to my clients to simply fill your plate half way with produce at each meal. By doing this, you are taking in a large amount of volume and fiber with few calories, helping to prevent weight gain. Think about which dish sounds more filling? A three ounce salmon fillet with one cup of brown rice on the side OR A three ounce salmon fillet with two cups mix produce including diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, and green beans mixed with 1/3 cup of brown rice? The second dish sounds more flavorful, colorful, and filling, right? It is! But it also contains fewer calories than the first! See how easy that was?
To help brighten up your plate, I compiled a list of 10 amazing tomato recipes that look and taste just like summer. I want to thank my amazing blogging friends who have allowed me to share these recipes with you and I encourage you to check out each of their blogs for more delicious and healthy recipes:
Note: This post has been sponsored by the Tomato Wellness Council. All thoughts and opinions are my own.