Tag Archives: tomatoes

Seeing Red for Happy Hearts

Seeing Red in Healthy Foods



Red is the color of the month with the hearts and roses of Valentine’s Day and the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red For Women campaign to coax us to be good to our hearts.  
Heart Smart Fashions for Go Red for Women National Heart, Lung and Blood Gala in NYC 
So as long as we’re seeing red in February here’s a taste of the reasons why choosing foods that are naturally red are a good choice for good nutrition.
Red Hot Healthy
From blue to green to red and orange pigments of foods are indications of the nutrients that lie within. (This does not include the many colors of M & M’s.)  The color map to good eating applies principally to plant foods. Individual pigments offer visual clues about various health promoting plant compounds called phyto-chemicals. Phyto is the Greek word for plant. That’s why you may have heard you’re supposed to eat a rainbow of colors.  
Red is easier to say than Anthocyanin and Lycopene

By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables from each color group, you have a better chance of getting a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds.

When you see red in fruits and vegetables it’s a sign that these foods contain the compounds lycopene and anthocyanin. These dietary good guys, classified as antioxidants, are associated with promoting heart health, protecting cells from damage, improving memory function, aiding blood sugar control and a lowering risk of certain cancers including prostate cancer.



More Than 50 Shades of Red

 Reddish orange tones in foods such as red peppers and tomatoes are an indication that beta-carotene, another potent antioxidant, is also in the healthy mix. Generally foods with darker pigmentation are richer in antioxidants. So, a ruby red grapefruit would be higher in antioxidants than a yellow colored grapefruit.   

All Citrus is Healthy but Red Color Means More Antioxidant Concentration 


Anthocyanins are also found in reddish blue foods such as grapes, red cabbage, radicchio, red onions, red skinned and purple potatoes. So enjoy all the shades of red.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation offers a lot of great information on the health benefits of enjoying fruits and vegetables. In fact, researchers estimate that there is up to 4,000 different phytochemicals in plant foods and only a small fraction have been studied closely. 
So much tastier than a vitamin pill

That’s why, for example, it’s better to bite into a strawberry, which is an excellent source of vitamin C (even a dark chocolate covered one on Valentine’s Day) than to swallow a vitamin C supplement. Strawberries contain so many more healthy nutrients, some not yet even identified.

While we think about eating raw fruits and vegetables as the ultimate healthy snack, the red hued phytochemical lycopene is actually better absorbed after it’s cooked. 
Cooking tomatoes ups the betacarotene bioavailability 
So marinara sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup and even ketchup contribute to a heart healthy diet.


Red Hot Shopping List

Fruit:

Red apples
Blood oranges
Cherries
Cranberries
Red grapes
Pomegranates
Raspberries
Watermelon

Vegetables:

Beets
Red peppers
Radishes
Radicchio
Red potatoes
Rhubarb
Tomatoes

A Nutrition Note on Red Meat


Lean beef is redder in color than heavily marbled cuts with streaks of fat throughout. That means lean beef cuts such as filet mignon, sirloin and flank steaks are lower in saturated fats, total fat and calorie content and therefore a better choice for heart health.  There are 29 lean cuts of lean beef. 

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Farmers Market Month!

August is for Farmers  
Saturdays start early for farmers market fans who grab re-usable shopping bags, jostle for parking spaces and hit the stands.  As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm and in this case it’s the best tasting pickings of fresh produce, herbs, flowers, artisanal cheeses, organic eggs and just-baked breads.  It’s also the place your likely to learn about the foods you’re buying from the same folks who grew the vegetables or made the cheese. Overheard at the Peachtree Road Farmers Marketone recent Saturday; a woman attracted to a beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes but hesitant to buy asked the farmer, “How do I know which ones to pick?”  He replied, “Well, it depends when you want to eat them. If you want them for today choose the really ripe red ones. If you want them for a few days from now choose the firmer ones that will ripen on the kitchen counter.”  She smiled and began her personal harvest from the farmer’s selection.

More Farmers Markets

 August is National Farmers Market Month and just released statistics from the US Department of Agriculture shows a 9.6 increase in the number of farmers markets over the past year. While Georgia can’t beat California’s 827 or New York’s 647 markets, the percent growth in the Southeast region beats the national average with 13.1 percent more farmers market listed in the 2012 edition of the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, compared to 2011.  Marilyn Wright Yon, dietitian with the School Nutrition Program for Georgia’s Department of Education likes to visit farmers markets so much she seeks them out in other towns when on vacation, “You find amazing things and meet really interesting people.” She recommends bringing a small cooler especially if purchasing cheese, eggs or meats and says, “Buy something new to you to try.  Ask how to prepare it if needed.”

Chefs and Farmers

Another crop showing up at farmers markets is the chef! Chef demos are often part of the entertainment and education for shoppers. The Peachtree Road Farmers Market and Morningside Farmers Market, for instance, feature local chefs and cookbook authors each week.  Rebecca Lang, author of Quick-Fix Southern showed folks what to do with summer’s bumper crop of corn and tomatoes.

You’ll even see Atlanta area chefs leading private tours of the market.  I saw Linton Hopkins, executive chef of Restaurant Eugene followed by an eager bunch of foodies as he introduced them to farmers and spoke about unusual varieties or especially tasty ones.  Executive chef Thomas McKeown of the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead is a regular at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market too because he drops in to visit one of his favorite farmers, Cory Mosser of Burge Organic Farms of Mansfield, Georgia, “I use Burge’s produce in the hotel restaurant where we have a big commitment to supporting local farms.”  During his recent farmers market recipe demo McKeown prepared local goat cheese mousse with heirloom tomato jam. He’ll be on Mosser’s farm cooking lunch for volunteers pitching in work the fields on Sunday August 19th,  “It’s a crop mob. You’ve heard of a flash mob right?” explains McKeown, “Well this is an organized effort to help farmers with volunteer labor.”

www.crobmobgeorgia.com   A great way to celebrate National Farmers Market Month.  
To Market to Market: 
Tips from Nutrition Experts who Love Farmers Markets

Marilyn Wright Yon, MS, RD:  

Arrive early – right at the start of the market – if you want popular items like strawberries, blueberries, peaches, corn, peas or melons.  These typically go fast when in season. 

Bring change – small bills – for your purchases (some are taking credit cards now with their iPhones and the square thingy). 

Bring your own bags/baskets to carry home as sellers can run out of bags. 

Learn the seasons for your area so you are not disappointed if you do not find tomatoes and melons in May (at least in N Georgia) and decide to not return. 

Visit all the vendors even if you think you are finished with your purchases.  You may find something you would like to try the next week. 

Debbie King, MS RD LD :        
    Take a quick walk around to see what’s available before making purchases     
    If your local farmer will take orders the day before it saves lots of time and if you are running late you know what you ordered will be there.
      Buy your favorites but try one new veggie or fruit each weekLike garlic scapes,  they are not just for table décor.
     Ask other shoppers what they make with what they are buyingI was purchasing tomatoes this summer and another shopper said she was buying tomatoes to make tomato jam.  So when I got home I scoured the internet for good sounding tomato jam recipe and made itIt was a great idea as tomato jam is more like ketchup, so we have enjoyed yummy homemade ketchup on our veggie burgers this summer.
    Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD LD: Atlanta!
    -make sure to wear comfortable shoes, but make sure they’re cute. Lots of hunky farmers here. And guys shopping with their girl friends for Saturday dinner cooking dates. You want to look like you’re shopping for a dinner date, too.
    -make sure to wear something casual but fashionable. Avoid shopping bags that clash with your color combo. Lots of other cute girls with designer sunglasses and trendy designs on their re-useable shopping bags. You are not going for the “Rebecca of SunnyBrook Farm” look either. Avoid braids and gingham,  looks too theme-like. 
    -make sure to have lots of small bills. You don’t want to stress out the organic peach guy by handing him a twenty. Small bills especially important in the early hours of market when farmers and vendors haven’t collected a lot of small bills, yet. 
    -act like your bags are really heavy when you see a cute guy near the organic coffee vendor. It’s a long walk to the car. 


Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Eat With and For Your Eyes

Cherry Tomato eye’s view of train going by Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, Atlanta

Food’s got to taste good and look good to win a cooking competition. Every contestant in a recipe contest or chef’s cook-off knows that. First we eat with our eyes, as the saying goes. The tomato cheesecake with an ice cream bun was so pretty and impressed the judges’ palates so much Donald Sargent of Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream was the big winner at Georgia Organic’s Fourth Annual Attack of The Killer Tomato Festival. 
Along with fellow Les Dames d’Escoffier member, Angie Mosier ( not pictured)  I got to emcee the
Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival
Put that on your resume! 
For the field of Atlanta area chefs and mixologists the food focus was on Georgia grown tomatoes of all colors, shapes and sizes yielding some crazy and creative bites and beverages for food lovers gathered at JCT Kitchen and around the west midtown complex. Tyler Williams of Abattoir whipped out the liquid nitrogen to create a frozen tomato Greek salad – a serving of tiny frozen balls that burst with flavor and ate like ‘dippin dots’ ice cream. 
Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene poured tomato gravy on pulled pork sliders and Drew Beline of NO. 246 presented elegant bites of roasted tomato and goat cheese tortellini in tomato brodo with small tomatoes and basil.


Eat For Your Eyes

Foods are more appealing when they look beautiful and nothing’s prettier than a summer tomato! But, looks like we should be eating for our eyes too. Nutrition researchers are gazing into our eyes to illuminate the link between nutrition and eye health.  Their important diet discoveries go beyond eating carrots to see better in the dark. Carrots still rank high on the eye-sight- saving menu but other heroes, perhaps even more important, are emerging from the farm. 
Scientists have set their sights on green leafy and deep orange or yellow vegetables such as spinach, kale, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, carrots, collard greens, yellow squash and turnip greens because they contain two natural carotenoid plant pigments called lutein and zeaxanthin. 
They are both potent antioxidants thought to protect the eyes against damaging light waves and free radicals that may cause cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  A 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition reports that lutein can reduce risk of cataracts by up to forty percent and a 2007 study in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that lutein may cut risk of AMD by thirty five percent. 
Pizza with arugula! Looking good for taste buds and eye health. 
Lutein is also found in eggs, especially the yolk.  Take note of that and skip the egg white omelets. 
Chef Carvel Gould of Canoe chose to perch a tiny quail egg on top of a biscuit with slices of fresh and preserved tomato for  her Tomato Fest entry. Talk about easy on the eyes! 
Cage free egg at Ecco restaurant, Atlanta. 
Recipe note: since lutein is a fat-soluble nutrient absorption is increased when consumed with a little oil. So it’s good to know that olive oil drizzled on summer’s fresh salads is good for your taste buds and your eyes.

Focus on Foods

Other powerful antioxidant nutrients associated with maintaining overall eye health are zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.

The two leading causes of visual loss and blindness are cataracts and AMD, affecting more than 22 million Americans. Lutein is important for the development of an infant’s eye sight (attention moms-to-be) and maintaining children’s vision health (another reason to eat your vegetables kids!).  So make lutein a routine for good eye health throughout the lifespan! 

Happily, many of the foods rich in nutrients good for our eyes are delicious additions to any meal and are beautiful to look at too. How about those tomatoes?


Make Lutein a Routine! 
Lutein/Zeaxanthin: kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, avocado, zucchini, peas, corn, Brussels sprouts, tangerines, dark leafy salad greens. Also, eggs.

Beta-carotene: carrots, mangos, sweet potato, greens, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, kale, apricots. 

Vitamin C: papaya, citrus fruit, strawberries, tomato, mango, green peppers, berries.

Vitamin E: almonds, wheat germ, whole grain breads, avocado, greens.

Zinc: oysters, lobster, beef, poultry, pork, lentils, whole grain bread.

Source: USDA nutrient data base.

 


Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest