Practical food tips for parents from a RD and mom of three

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kid Superfood: Tomatoes

By now we've all heard the news: tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is associated with a lower risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is more readily absorbed by the body in cooked and canned tomato products, making canned tomatoes, ketchup, and salsa excellent sources. Lycopene is also found in other red fruits like watermelon and pink grapefruit. Tomato season is coming – you just can't beat the flavor of fresh-grown summer tomatoes!

This may be a good place to discuss antioxidants. (I found the following explanation in the book Food and Nutrition Controversies Today: A Reference Guide by Myrna Chandler Goldstein and Mark A. Goldstein, M.D.) Tissues in our body are susceptible to damage by free radicals, which are reactive oxygen molecules that are present everywhere. Diseases like arthritis, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are associated with free radical damage. Antioxidants are molecules that “take the hit” by being damaged by free radicals and neutralizing them. Ok, enough science, more food!

I already posted my recipe for tomato sauce, a great way to add tomatoes to your family's diet. Canned tomatoes are easy to keep on hand. Buy them on sale and stock up! I add canned chopped, crushed, or whole tomatoes to soups, stews, chili, and rice.

Deacon and I made “tuna boats” for lunch. I cut a roma tomato in half, then we scooped out the seeds to make boats. We mixed up tuna salad and loaded it into the boats, then placed them on lettuce “waves.” Deacon would grab tomatoes and eat them like apples if I kept them in his reach!

Please comment, I'd love to hear your suggestions: what else would you stuff in a tomato?

Today's tip: Add antioxidants to your diet with fresh tomatoes and tomato sauces, ketchup and salsa.

1 comment:

  1. We love grape/cherry tomatoes in our house. We grow them in containers on our deck which is very easy then pick the ready ones daily. They are a super easy on-the-go snack that my daughter loves and I feel good about giving to her. To make it more exciting we sometimes cut the tomatoes in half, cook them a bit in a pan til they are warm then sprinkle them with fresh basil leaves for a very yummy side dish. : )