Tomatoes are the most widely consumed non-starchy “veggie” (really a fruit) in America and this is a wonderful thing! Tomatoes offer a treasure chest of nutrients for boosting your health, but their crown jewel is a super potent antioxidant called lycopene. Scientists speculate that tomatoes’ rich supply of lycopene is the key factor in the long list of health victories it can claim. People that eat the most tomatoes and tomato-based products get less prostate cancer, colon cancer, osteoporosis, sun-damaged skin, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Please make note that processed tomato products like tomato sauce, paste, or marinara beat out fresh tomatoes in terms of lycopene concentration. (This is one of the very rare examples where processed is better for you than fresh!) When you choose fresh tomatoes, the smaller the tomato the more concentrated the lycopene. I eat grape tomatoes by the handful!
Here is a wonderful recipe incorporating this superstar food you can try at home:
Serves 4This classic is divine, especially with fresh eggplant in season. And it works as a side or main dish.
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/3 in slices widthwise (you want 8 slices)
4 slices of fresh mozzarella
3 cups tomato sauce, recipe follows (or use your favorite jar of tomato sauce for less preparation)
Grapeseed or avocado oil pan spray
Several leaves of fresh basil, cut chiffonade
For Tomato Sauce:
2 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp dry oregano
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (san marzano prefered)
2 tbsp tomato paste
splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a baking dish with grape-seed or avocado oil pan spray, and place the eggplant in the pan and cook them in the oven until just soft, about 10 minutes. Once the eggplant slices are cool enough to touch create 4 “stacks” in the baking dish with an eggplant slice on the bottom followed by a big dollop of tomato sauce, another slice of eggplant, more tomato sauce, and mozzarella (no reason to not go heavy on the tomato sauce). Sprinkle stacks with salt and pepper. Return to oven and bake until mozzarella is very melted and oozing over and tomato sauce is bubbling.
For Tomato Sauce :
Heat EVOO in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes (stirring occasionally and reduce heat if it begins to burn). Add garlic, oregano, and tomato paste and cook for 4 more minutes. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and bring to simmer. Cook at a simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes or until to your liking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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