Tomatoes aren't just for throwing at your enemies—they're actually a great addition to your healthy diet!

Produced mostly in tropical climates because they require a long growing season, tomatoes are technically fruits even though they are often classified as vegetables for culinary purposes.

Despite the fact that they are 95% water, tomatoes manage to contain an impressive amount of nutrients. In one small 18-calorie tomato, you will find 0.9 grams of protein, 3.9 grams of carbohydrates (2.6 grams sugar and 1.2 grams fiber), and only .2 grams of fat! You'll also find notable amounts of the vitamins and minerals potassium, Vitamin K1, folate (vitamin B9), and beta carotene (which your body uses to make Vitamin A).

Some other beneficial plant compounds found in tomatoes are naringenin, a flavonoid that can reduce inflammation, and chlorogenic acid which has been found to lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.

Tomatoes are also the most impressive source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has health benefits ranging from inhibited tumor growth to protection from sunburns. Lycopene has also been found to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system, lowering bad cholesterol levels and increasing good ones. This effect was particularly beneficial in those people whose heart health was most compromised, including the elderly, smokers, and people with diabetes.

You may also want to try getting your tomato fix in salsa, which is made of pureed tomatoes mixed with various spices. On the other hand, you should avoid ketchup, and any other tomato-based sauce or juice that includes unnecessary added sugars.

These three recipes will give you a great head start on incorporating tomatoes into your everyday diet!

Breakfast Tomato

Ingredients

  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Spring onion
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tps seasoning of choice

Directions

Slice tomato. Cook in a non stick pan for a few minutes. Mix seasoning, apple cider vinegar and chopped spring onion together. Place tomato on a plate and pour mix over the top. Great breakfast alternative.

Chilled Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • Chopped tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon green onion sliced
  • 1 garlic clove crushed and minced
  • Dash of mustard powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon marjoram
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine apple cider vinegar with spices. Pour over tomato chunks or slices. Marinate and chill for 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 servings (1 vegetable).

Phase 3 modifications

Add olive oil or mayonnaise, mix in small slices of Swiss or crumbled feta cheese and sliced green olives.

Tomato Basil Chicken

Ingredients

  • 100 grams cubed chicken
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 leaves basil rolled and sliced
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano fresh or dried
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Dash of onion powder
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Lightly brown the chicken in small saucepan with lemon juice. Add garlic, onion, spices and water. After chicken is cooked add fresh tomatoes and basil. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh basil. Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 vegetable).

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