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Author Notes: Tomatoes are full of health benefits. And when it comes to heirloom tomatoes, bigger is better. This larger variety of tomato is perfect for adding to salads and even making soups. Full of nutrients and health benefits, heirloom tomatoes can even be used to make a cold summer soup.
A refreshing twist away from soups that warm you up in the winter, gazpacho is a summer delight. Using the delightful hues of heirloom tomatoes, your soup ends up delicious, nutritious, and a colorful snack for those warm summer evenings.
You Say Tomato…
Regardless of the way you pronounce it, tomatoes are full of health benefits that you should be taking advantage of. Tomatoes contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and are versatile enough to be eaten with every meal.
As a staple part of the Mediterranean diet, tomatoes are revered as great ways to boost the flavor of your food along with your health. They are easy to cultivate and grown in countries all across the world.
Apart from being a great source of fiber and protein, the key nutrients that make tomatoes so popular include: Vitamin C (about 40 percent of your daily requirement), Vitamin A, Vitamin K (for blood clotting and controlling bleeding), Significant amounts of vitamin B6, folate and thiamine, Potassium (helps to maintain nerve health), Iron (helps to maintain blood circulation), Phosphorus, Copper, Manganese, and Magnesium.
The lycopene in tomatoes prevents what is known as serum lipid oxidation. This allows them to effectively protect you from cardiovascular diseases. Regular consumption of tomatoes has been linked to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These are key contributors to heart problems and disease because they deposit fats in your blood vessels.
Additionally, the potassium in tomatoes helps to prevent hypertension. As a vasodilator, potassium reduces the tension between vessels and arteries and increases circulation, thus lowering the amount of stress placed on your heart.
Digestive Health: Tomatoes help to prevent both constipation and diarrhea. They also help to prevent jaundice and can facilitate the elimination of toxins from the body.
The large amount of fiber in tomatoes can bulk up your bowel movements and helps to stimulate digestive muscles and the production of digestive juices. With your bowel movements and digestive process running smoothly, you will be able to digest food better, absorb nutrients more efficiently, and help to prevent problems, like colorectal cancer.
Additionally, tomatoes are low in sugar and can reduce oxidative stress, both of which make them ideal for individuals with diabetes. As important as heart and digestive health is, let’s not forget the other numerous health benefits tomatoes can provide.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free-radicals, thus protecting you from cancer. Vitamin A helps to improve vision and prevents macular degeneration. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can help to eliminate free radicals. The coumaric and chlorogenic acids in tomatoes fight against nitrosamines which are the main carcinogens in cigarettes.
They aid in the maintenance of healthy teeth, bones, hair and skin. Topical application has even been known to help sooth sunburns and daily consumption helps to protect you from UV-induced erythema. The high water content stimulates urine production. This diuretic function helps to protect you from urinary tract infections and bladder cancer. It also stimulates the efficient expulsion of toxins from the body. Regular consumptions provide relief from gallstones even in processed versions such as ketchup and purees.
The Perfect Summer Soup
There are a number of reasons why you should choose heirloom tomatoes over other varieties. Heirloom tomatoes have not been cross bred with other varieties. Rather, they have been passed down intact among communities and families.
They are unique in personality, shape, and color; not always being symmetrical is one of their most enduring qualities. Commercial tomatoes have had the flavor bred out of them over the years because people prefer that perfect, round, red shape.
Heirlooms retain their wonderful flavor variety, allowing them to add real flavor and taste to a meal. They bruise very easily but so long as care is taken, their sweet flavor and wonderful colors make it all worthwhile. —Jennifer Fontaine
Red Onion, diced
pounds Heirloom tomatoes, cored and diced
Peeled cucumbers, diced
tablespoon Kosher salt
teaspoons Fresh lemon juice
tablespoons Olive oil
teaspoons Fresh minced parsley
teaspoon Minced fresh thyme
cups Cubed French bread
tablespoons Sherry vinegar
Large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- Stir the onion (1/2 cup), 1 cup of tomatoes, cucumbers, salt and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, parsley and pepper in a bowl.
- Once mixed, cover and refrigerate.
- Using a food processor, blend the remaining onion with the lemon juice, garlic, thyme, vinegar and bread until smooth. Remember to stop the blender periodically to scrape the sides.
- Add in the remaining tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell pepper. Puree again until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl to be put in the refrigerator for anywhere between an hour and a day.
- Before you serve, put the soup back into the blender and slowly mix while adding 3 tablespoons of olive oil. At this point, you can add salt and pepper to season according to your taste.
- The gazpacho can be served in small bowls, each with crème fraiche and a spoonful of diced vegetables on top.