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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Food of the Month: Tomatoes

Is a tomato a fruit? Or is it a vegetable? Here at Peas of Mind, we really don't care; what we're looking for this August is a perfectly vine ripened summer tomato.  The trick to truly loving a tomato (and getting your little one to do the same) is to be picky.  Yes, you heard that right, we want you and your kids to be BE PICKY. This means waiting all winter and spring  for beautifully seasonal summer tomatoes and saying NO to the mealy refrigerated tomato that comes as an after thought on the salad you ordered in the middle of February.  Nobody really likes that kind of tomato and that might be why your little one turns up her nose when you try to cut her up a tomato for a snack.  Yes, you will wait months for your for the perfect tomato but trust us, when it comes to nutrition and flavor, it will be well worth the wait.   

When eaten during the summer months tomatoes are a great source of vitamin A, C and folic acid. They also have high levels of lycopene which has been shown to protect against heart disease and choline which helps with learning and memory (a tomato a day may make summer reading time that much more productive). 

Now the question is, how do you incorporate these delectable summer treats into your kid's diet? Have no fear, Peas of Mind is here and we've compiled our favorite tomato recipe ideas and made them extra simple and extra kid friendly:

Homemade tomato sauce: 
The trick to an easy and yummy tomato sauce is using your blender or food processor.  Simply halve the tomatoes, peel a few cloves of garlic and puree in your blender.  Pour into a sauce pan and add your favorite herbs and veggies, bring to boil then put on low and let simmer for about 90 minutes (no need to stir, just make sure it's nice and low).  Before serving add a "glug" of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt and sugar to taste (this will bring out the sweetness of your fresh tomatoes).

Some kids say EEEK to salsa BUT if you can figure out what it is they don't like about salsa and remove that and combine it with their favorite corn/tortilla chips, they'll devour it.  Most kids tend to be sensitive to spicy peppers, onions and cilantro.  Make a simple salsa with a small amount of finely chopped yellow onion (the most mild), chopped tomatoes (have your little ones choose a special heirloom tomato - with all the different colors, sizes, and shapes they'll love the challenge of finding the coolest tomato at the farmers market), a small amount of finely chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, salt and agave.  Again, this hit of sweetness brings out the natural kid friendly flavors of a ripe tomato.  Allow the salsa to marinate in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes before serving.

Rustic Homemade Ketchup:  Follow this recipea for our delicious and easy to make homemade ketchup. Don't forget to pair with a tray of Broccoli Veggie Wedgies for the perfect afternoon snack!

Stuffed tomatoes:
Halve a few large tomatoes and have your little ones help you gently scrape out most of the insides/pulp of each tomato.  In a hot pan combine bread crumbs, the tomato pulp, herbs, cheese and stir-fry together until mixed thoroughly.  Add mixture back into tomatoes and top with a bit more cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes for 350 degrees.

The time is NOW to seize this year's tomato harvest and enjoy some vine ripened, nutrient dense summer tomatoes. Now is your chance to get your little ones loaded up with vitamins, anti-oxidants and the joy that comes with waiting all year for the perfect summer fruit (or is it a veggie).

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