Tomatoes: The Perfect Summer Food

Ripe Toamtoes
Now that summer is almost here and the tomato plants are growing in our garden, I am starting to think of all the dishes I’ll be able make and eat!. Of course you can get tomatoes year round, but they are never as good in the off-season. Typically they are grown in greenhouses and picked pre-ripe and shipped halfway across the country. They tend to be bland. Nothing is so disappointing as biting into a tasteless store bought tomato. Summer tomatoes that are locally grown, on the other hand, are bright, juicy, and delicious.

Tomatoes are Abundant

You should have no problem acquiring great tomatoes in the summer. For one, tomatoes are very easy to grow – which is what my husband and I do every summer. Most home and garden stores sell small tomato plants in the spring that you can transplant into your garden after the danger of the first frost is over. All you need is a space in your garden, or a very large pot, and you can grow tomatoes. All they require is a lot of water and a lot of sunlight and they will thrive. Before you know it, you will have beautiful, ripe tomatoes that you can pick right off the vine.

If you can’t grow them yourself, ripe local tomatoes are still easy to find! Farmers markets and vegetable stand should have plenty of locally grown tomatoes. Good grocery stores will often have locally grown tomatoes and other produce in-season.

They are Healthy

Tomatoes are one of the healthiest things you can eat! For one, they are rich in lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant. In addition to delivering the standard benefits of antioxidants, lycopene also helps prevent pancreatic cancer. Tomatoes also contain beta-carotene (Vitamin A) as well as vitamins C and E, and potassium.

They’re Delicious!

You can do so many things with a tomato. From cold tomato gazpacho to salads, from grilling them to canning them to make a sauce, there are nearly infinite possibilities.

Thinking it over I think my favorite tomato dish is the simple BLT. What can be better than toasted bread with yummy mayonnaise, crisp green lettuce, perfectly cooked bacon, and a juicy red homegrown tomato? Nothing much, in my opinion.

I also love eating plain tomato sandwiches with nothing more than bread, mayo, a little salt and a fresh cut tomato. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. It’s one of the easiest things in the world to make, and it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the simplicity of this amazing fruit. I also love an arugula, goat cheese, and tomato salad with just a little bit of salt and olive oil.

This summer I plan to try some new tomato dishes like stuffed tomatoes, and I also want to make some tomato sauce for winter so I can have those summer tomato memories.

Superfood: Turmeric

Superfood: Turmeric

You probably know turmeric as the main ingredient in curry powder.  It’s the orangey-yellow spice that gives curry powder it’s unique color and flavor.  In addition to being a great culinary ingredient, Turmeric has long been thought to have numerous healthy properties – and science is backing that up!

Countries that consume a lot of turmeric per capita, India for instance, have a low rate of diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.  While the benefits of turmeric are still being studied, there is certainly enough evidence of its health benefits that it’s a great idea to incorporate it into your diet.

Anti-inflammatory properties

According to studies published by the National Institute of Health, circumin (a substance common in turmeric) has anti-inflammatory properties.  Inflammation is a leading cause of many ailments, and natural substances with anti-inflammatory properties can do wonders for your health. Anti-inflammatory substances can have a wide range of health benefits.


In this study, it has been shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of circumin are also anti-arthritic. The study took patients who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and treated some with circumin and others with standard RA treatments and compared the results.  The result was that “the curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement.” Not only that, but “curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events.”  Meaning that the study showed no side effects from the treatment. Granted this was a small study, but the results are very promising.


The anti-inflammatory effects of circumin may also fight cancer. A study of colon cancer in lab rats has shown that circumin treatments significantly inhibited tumor growth. Of course this doesn’t mean that eating turmeric will cure cancer, but the evidence that it’s been shown to inhibit tumor growth is certainly a good thing.

Cognitive effects

Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s been long-rumored that turmeric helps prevent alzheimer’s.  Countries that consume a great deal of turmeric, like India and Bangladesh, have very low rates of the disease.  Scientific studies are now backing this up, and more and more research is being done on the matter. According to this study, circumin “improves the cognitive functions in patients with AD.”


According to this study, “Curcumin … has shown potential antidepressant-like activity in animal studies.” The study also “provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD” (major depressive disorder).  So the idea that turmeric can help with depression and cognitive functioning isn’t just anecdotal – it’s backed up by science. And not only that, unlike a lot of other treatments for depression, turmeric has no known side effects.

So, is turmeric a magic cure-all? Of course not.  And if you suffer from any of the above afflictions, your should follow your doctor’s advice.  But taking supplemental circumin – or better yet, incorporating turmeric into your diet – can potentially have some very positive long-term effects on your health and mental well-being.  Plus, turmeric is delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet!

Here are some amazing dishes featuring turmeric:

Sloppy Jai – Indian Sloppy Joe


Image by: Simon A. Eugster, used under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Superfood: Chickpeas

Have you ever wondered what that little beige bean towards the back of the salad bar that no one ever eat is? It is a Chickpea, also known as a Garbanzo bean. It is one of the oldest harvested legumes. According to Wikipedia, 7,500 year old traces of the bean have been found in the Middle East.

There are three different kinds of chickpeas: Desi, Bombay, and Kabuli. Desi are small and dark and have a rough covering. Desi chickpeas are mainly grown in India as well as Iran. Bombay Chickpeas are also dark and just a bit bigger than the Desi and are popular in India as well. Kabuli Chickpeas are lighter in color and have a softer covering then the Desi. This type of chickpea is grown in the Mediterranean. It is believed that the Kabuli was first grown in Kabul in Afghanistan The rare black chickpea is bigger and darker than the Desi and is only grown in Apulia which is in Southeast Italy.

Chickpeas have a lovely nutty taste and a buttery texture, and are a well known component in Italian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. Chickpeas are used to make dishes such as hummus, falafel, and curries. They are used cold in tapas dishes in Spain, and with pasta in Italy. In Asian cuisine chickpeas are eaten as sweets or desserts in the Philippines.

You can buy chickpeas either dried or canned like other beans, but I have found that finding them dried is a little harder in small rural areas.

There are endless ways to use chickpeas in your daily diet. You can use them in salads, stews, and also ground into a flour. The flour can be used to coat vegetables for frying and also to make certain kinds of Mediterranean flatbreads such as Socca. Some kinds of chickpeas can be popped like Popcorn! Maybe something new to try on family movie night. My favorite uses for chickpeas are falafel and hummus.

Chickpeas are high in protein and iron. They are also a heart healthy food which can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and your overall cholesterol if eaten as a regular part of your diet. Chickpeas can also aid in weight loss due to being high in fiber and having a low Glycemic Index which helps control blood sugar levels. Chickpeas are a great way to get the mineral manganese in to your diet. Manganese helps aid the body in energy production. According to, just one cup of garbanzo beans supplies 84.5% of the daily value for this mineral. states that one cup of cooked chickpeas contain 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol.

So now that you know more about the chickpea and the advantages of adding it your diet, maybe you won’t skip over it the next time you visit your favorite salad bar. Also try the following recipes and you may find a new favorite food to share with your friends and family:

Super Simple Hummus
Even Better Hummus
Crispy Roasted Chick Peas