By: Sydney Richards, Junior Dietetics student at the University of Maryland
The tomato is a confusing and mysterious food.
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.