What No One Has Told You About The Tomato

By: Sydney Richards, Junior Dietetics student at the University of Maryland

The tomato is a confusing and mysterious food.

The array of heirloom tomato varieties offered by Lydia’s Fields at Wheatland, a vendor at The Farmers Market at Maryland.

One minute you hear it’s a fruit, and the next it’s called a vegetable (for those wondering – it is scientifically a fruit of the tomato plant, but is used in cooking like a vegetable). It tries to sneak into everything – salads, sandwiches, and soups – without you even noticing. Well not this time Tomato! We’re on to you and this time we’re going to find out exactly what you’re all about…..

OK, I sound a little fanatical. But let me be real with you for a minute.

Have you ever looked down into your salad and wondered what exactly is in this juicy treat? If you are the average college student then your answer is probably ‘No.’ But as a living being who eats every day, several times a day, don’t you want to know how this little red sphere can nourish your body?

So as you are eating, sleeping, or [trying to] study, take a minute to think about the nutritional benefits of the tomato….

Your Nutrition Lesson In Less Than 65 Words

Tomatoes are low in overall calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. They are also a great source of fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C (a helpful antioxidant). In other words, they aid in digestion, support immune health, help maintain optimal vision, rebuild connective tissues, and prevent inflammation. Which brings me to my main point: Tomatoes can be eaten on almost everything with added health benefits!

So maybe you’ve already done your homework on tomatoes, but do you know HOW to eat one?

The Way to Eat a Tomato

Honestly, this saucy superfood is delicious no matter how you prepare it! It can be stewed into soup, grilled on a kabob, stuffed and baked, or even eaten raw. In fact, my boyfriend will just bite into a tomato like it’s your typical apple (who else does this?). My favorite way to eat tomatoes is on a Cucumber Tomato Salad from Noodles & Company. It is delicious, contains only 110 tempting calories, and is well worth the Friday night wait on Route One. Want to add more red to your diet? Try adding tomatoes to your pasta, sandwich, or stir-fry this week.

Starting to understand the hype?

Fun Fact: The tomato belongs to the infamous nightshade family and was once considered to be deadly poisonous!

A Final Note

As fall approaches, keep in mind that the tomato is a summer seasonal vegetable (even though it is offered in grocery stores year-round). So take full advantage of this time of year – it tastes so much sweeter when you can buy in-season produce that is cheap and local.

A great resource we have right on campus is The Farmers Market at Maryland, which comes to campus every Wednesday in front of Cole Fieldhouse from 11am-3pm. I love it because they offer your typical, red heirloom tomatoes as well as some funky hybrids like the tiger tomato and the pineapple tomato (check out the array of tomatoes offered at Lydia’s Fields in the photo above!).

Now that you are educated (and probably hungry) go out there and have your own tomato experience!

Comment with your favorite quick, easy, nutritious, or just gosh-darn good tomato recipes.

This entry was posted in Nutrition, The Farmers Market at Maryland and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to What No One Has Told You About The Tomato

  1. Kate says:

    Summer tomatoes are the best! In July and August at my local farmers’ market I get these tiny yellow ones, and they taste like little bursts of sunshine!!

  2. Selby says:

    I love making tomato salads with grape tomatoes! If you just add some olive oil, basil and some other seasoning. It tastes great on top of bread!

    • umwellness says:

      Selby, This sounds great! I also enjoy making tomato creations on top of fresh-baked bread from the small bakery in my hometown. It is just the finishing touch on a perfect meal. -Sydney

  3. Tara says:

    I love tomato with fresh mozzarella — that’s my favorite combination! I also love grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes as a convenient snack to carry around with me on campus. My favorite tomato from Lydia’s Fields is the pineapple tomato. It’s really cool looking and tastes great too! All of the tomatoes she sells are always so ripe and delicious — I definitely recommend it!

    • umwellness says:

      Tara – Panera Bread used to have a tomato and mozzarella salad, which was another one of my favorite low-calorie treats. I still have yet to try the pineapple tomato from the Farmers Market at Maryland, but I know that as soon as I pick up my next paycheck I will be headed over to the market to indulge my curiosity! It sounds like the pineapple tomato would be delicious (and interesting) on almost any type of sandwich or salad. -Sydney

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yea! Love those tomatoes! I slice them up, sprinkle a little rice vinegar and a bit of good olive oil and eat them right out of the farm garden. Just finished cutting up a dozen or so, simmering them down to thicken a bit with three or four cloves of chopped garlic, a bit of basil, and running them through the food mill for a great fresh tasting spaghetti sauce.

    • umwellness says:

      Mmmm, homemade tomato sauce! Nothing beats this tasty treat, especially if you are a secret pasta fiend like me! When I pick out my first apartment, a backyard or garden will be a requirement for this exact reason. -Sydney

  5. Dawn says:

    I love tomatoes, too. My favorite way to eat them is to chop them up with some onions and sprinkle over scrambled eggs or an omelette. (Love hearing how good they are for us, too!)

    • umwellness says:

      Dawn – I add tomatoes to my egg dishes as well! Every morning before high-school my mother would ask me what I wanted for breakfast and I would tell her “an omelette with broccoli, tomato, and feta cheese.” It was so satisfying and gave me a boost of energy for the long school day ahead of me too! -Sydney

  6. Sarah says:

    I love tomatos! But if I did not, this article would have convinced me to!

    • umwellness says:

      Sarah – As a fellow tomato lover, I would certainly encourage you to try the Farmers Market at Maryland (if you have not already) for their large selection. When you buy a raw tomato, you have a world of culinary possibilities in front of you! -Sydney

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