Friday, 12 October 2012

Everyone has their favorite vegetable or fruit. I have both. And by “both” I mean tomato. Well, some say it is a vegetable, and others that it is a fruit. It's hard to believe but in the seventeenth century it was considered as a poison and was grown only for ornamental purposes. But soon (to my endless happiness) the medicinal properties and flavour of the tomatoes have been discovered. It didn't take long for the tomato to become a king of the international cuisine. Thanks to Queen Bona, who has introduced the 'golden apple' to the Polish market. I love them so much that I recently couldn't resist to smuggle a few kilogrammes of Majorcan tomatoes to UK... nice souvenir, isn't it?

Did you know that tomatoes ....

· Are a source of carotene, vitamins C, K, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid and biotin. Tomatoes are also richest in potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese.
· Are rich in lycopene, which gives them their beautiful red colour and makes them a great antioxidants with powerful anti-cancer effect.

Tomato, thanks to its vitamin C, helps to maintain beautiful skin. Vitamin E, on the other hand protects against the formation of wrinkles and premature aging. Apparently, tomato juice mask applied to the skin of face and hands, lighten up blemishes and soothe acne. Potassium actively neutralizes harmful excess of salt in our diet that may cause increased blood pressure, water retention and muscle spasms. It also improves brain function by improving its oxygenation. Among the vitamins important for us is a vitamin A, which is beneficial to the optic nerves by strengthening them. It may be beneficial in people overdosing computing ;) The high content of folic acid in tomatoes can help future mothers, and those under greater stress as it is known to have a mood's soothing properties.

Not forgetting the male part of the population...
Some clever dudes from Harvard have proved that eating 10 pieces of pizza with tomato sauce per week or other food containing tomatoes, reduced a risk of prostate cancer by 45%. Italians, on the other hand have discovered that 7 servings of tomatoes a week will protect men against colon and stomach cancer. Moreover,  Finns have recently published results of 12 years of research on the role of tomato's lycopene in reducing the number of strokes, which not only prevents the formation of blood clots in the arteries but also inhibits the inflammatory response.

A few tomato facts:
· The best sources of lycopene are tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, tomato juice.
· The digestion of lycopene increases when tomatoes are processed with the addition of fat, preferably olive oil.
· Organically grown tomatoes contain three times as much lycopene as tomatoes from conventional crops.
· The best tomatoes are the ones with washed out colour and glossy skin. They contain more beta-carotene and lycopene.
· You should avoid tomato and cucumber salad as the enzyme found in cucumbers destroys vitamin C contained in tomatoes.
· Fresh tomatoes are excellent, however processed tomatoes (canned, sauce, puree, ketchup) retain most of their nutritional value. Furthermore, they contained more lycopene than a fresh fruit. In addition, often added oil, increases the digestion of lycopene. More evidence based publications about tomatoes' medicinal properties can be found here and here and there ...

I have tried out a various tomato juices but this one I have “composed” by myself, simply out of laziness... :) All the recipes on Internet and in food magazines recommend to cook tomatoes or tomato puree mixture with water before actual drinking. But who would want to cook the juice and then wait for it to cool down when what we want is to drink it right now!? So, in accordance to the principle 'need is the mother of invention' I want to share with you my latest tomato juice recipe. And because we don't own a shaker, for this purpose I have successfully adopted an empty jar of (already eaten) marmalade. Tomato puree together with fresh celery stick is full of flavour, and with just a small pinch of cayenne pepper is just right and slightly spicy and most of all, it is cheaper than the one bought in a supermarket. I've tried lots of different tomato purees and the best so far are those produced by Turkish and Hungarian manufactures, as they don't contain any salt, but are purely made of 100% tomatoes. Unfortunately, I got disappointed when I read the labels on the Polish branded tomato pastes - most of them contain only 20% of tomatoes, some percent of citric acid plus salt and other substances which names I can not even decrypt. I will not give the name of the manufacturer but somehow I feel a bit sad when looking for my favorite Polish products in the UK, I end up with foreign products in my basket.

Tomato juice

3 teaspoons of tomato puree
1 sprig of celery
250 ml mineral water
2 cubes of ice
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place two ice cube in a jar, add tomato paste and seasoning as desired. Grate your celery stick on finely and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Close the jar thoroughly and have fun while shaking, rounding, twisting... like a real bartender :) Shake the jar several times to mix all ingredients. Open the jar and serve your juice with a sprig of celery.

Voila! Quick and tasty juice!

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