February is heart month and there’s much more to it then sending out heart-shaped valentines or chocolates! February is a chance to shine the spotlight on one of the top killers in North America by providing the necessary information to prevent and treat the disease. Luckily there are many ways to fight back against heart disease, and some of them relate directly to the foods you eat. At Mucci Farms, we grow one of the best foods for your heart and it just so happens that incorporating it into your daily routine at any time of the year couldn’t be easier!
Tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium and they’re a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help get rid of “bad” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open, and lower heart attack risk. Plus, because they’re low in calories and low in sugar, they don’t detract from an already-healthy diet so it’s easy to incorporate them into your regular routine without adding in any unwanted extras. The best part? Cooking might actually increase the health benefits of a tomato because even though cooked tomatoes have less vitamin C, their lycopene is more available and antioxidant activity is undiminished by cooking so you don’t always have to eat them raw to enjoy their health benefits.
Making a Valentines Day meal for your special someone? Incorporate our fresh tomatoes for a gift that’s not only from the heart, but for the heart:
- Make fresh salsa instead of using store-bought jars. The end result is loaded with tomatoes and you can control the level of heat.
- Love breakfast? Throw some fresh tomatoes into your scrambled eggs to make a delicious frittata or add a handful into your homemade omelette for a burst of flavour and health benefits!
- Try your hand at oven roasted tomatoes! Halve ripe tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the sheet in the oven on the lowest temperature (150 to 170 degrees) and let the tomatoes dry for 8 hours, until they’re shrunken but still a little plump. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.
- Stuff your favourite meats with a handful of fresh tomatoes for an unexpected burst of flavour!
- Whip up a batch of fresh tomato sauce at home in no time. Chop several tomatoes and put into a bowl. Add salt and let sit for 30 minutes while the juices are drawn out. Strain into a sauté Simmer and whisk in butter. Spoon over pasta, fish, or chicken.
- Use them as inspiration to build a better grilled cheese sandwich
- Pickle them! Stuff a canning jar with salt, pickling spices, dill sprigs, garlic cloves, red hot chiles, and plenty of quartered green tomatoes. Fill with hot, but not boiling, water. Screw lid on tightly. Refrigerate for a month.
- Slice the top off of a beefsteak tomato and stuff it! Try a Mexican or Mediterranean flare and have fun with different flavour combinations.
- Slice up a few tomatoes and drizzle them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and serve with fresh herbs for garnish.
- Make a bed for grilled chicken, fish, or steak. Chop tomatoes and marinate in olive oil and salt for a few hours. Spread on plates and top with your favourite protein.
Sometimes small steps can make a big difference. Incorporating more heart-healthy foods like tomatoes will help you fight back against this disease and keep your heart healthy and strong for years to come. For more heart healthy tips and Valentines Day recipes, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.