All those tomatoes!!

Right now, season tomatoes are plentiful and cheap, so store some for winter.

Here’s why: Tomato skin contains high levels of antioxidant, lycopene proven effective against many forms of cancer and overall health perks. The many health benefits of tomatoes can be attributed to their juicy wealth of nutrients, fiber and sun-kissed vitamins.

One large tomato contains 40 percent of the daily vitamin C, impressive amounts of vitamin A, K, B6, folate, and thiamin, and good source of protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and copper. Partially due to the impressive levels of potassium found in tomatoes, consuming a tomato daily reduces the risk high blood pressure. Vitamin A has been shown to reduce the effects of carcinogens and can protect you against lung cancer. If you’re a cigarette smoker, tomatoes’ coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, fight against nitrosamines, the main carcinogens found in cigarettes.  Yes, tomatoes are acidic, but after you eat them, they make your body pH more alkaline: an unfriendly environment for cancer and disease.

For fresh summer goodness this winter, harvest just-picked tomatoes now and cook up a big pot of all-purpose tomato sauce, skin and all. Just this weekend I took about two dozen tomatoes, washed them well, chopped them up and put them into my food processor in batches, along with green peppers, onion, lots of garlic, a bit of tomato concentrate, Himalayan salt and pepper and pureed the daylights out of them. Then I simmered the sauce over medium fire for 10 minutes. After it cooled, I put the all-purpose sauce into freezer bags, laid them flat and froze the packages for future use for pasta, soups, chili and sauces. The nutritious red sauce will taste like it was made from fresh tomatoes, with a bright, fruity aroma, health creating vitamins and fiber. Also, cut fresh tomatoes into cubes and store them flat in the freezer for fall and winter soups and stews.

In a hurry to make a quick supper for Sandi recently, I went to our Fountain Square backyard garden, plucked cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine, cut them in half and tossed them into a sauté pan with oil, lots of garlic, salt and pepper and let them gently, not violently, cook over low heat. Then, at the last moment, I added cooked pasta and a handful of freshly harvested basil leaves, tossed it all together and dusted it with parmesan for a quick “right-out-of-the-garden” late summer pasta dish exploding with flavor and health-creating nutrition.  Life is good.