November Featured Vegetable of the Month – Tomatoes
Fall is one of my favorite seasons for many reasons. The changing weather, beautiful color changes, school is in full swing and football season are just a few reason I love fall. But as a food lover, one of my most favorite things about fall is making homemade soup. Although there are plenty of good cold soups for summer, I have never really embraced them. Part of my love of soup is the warmth you get from eating a steaming bowl of it on a chilly day. It is also very versatile. You can make so many different kinds of soup. The options are endless!
I recently came upon my recipe for Chicken Enchilada Soup and I was instantly craving it! The soup is loaded with good for you vegetables including Mama Jess’s Bien Good Enchilada Sauce. The recipe calls for chicken but the soup could just as easily be made meat free. Even without the chicken, it would contain all the protein you need. The combination of beans and corn will provide the all the necessary amino acids you need for a complete protein, but I’ll save my protein talk for another blog!
This recipe contains not only diced tomatoes, but also the tomato puree in Mama Jess Bien Good Sauce. So in this blog I will focus on the many health benefits of tomatoes. I am guessing that if you are reading this blog, you are already a fan of tomatoes and tomato sauces. This is a good thing as you get lots of nutrition from this vegetable and it’s available in lots of forms: fresh, heirloom varieties, sweet cherry, sun-dried, tomato sauces, tomato pastes, pureed, fire-roasted, etc.
Tomatoes are part of the nightshade vegetable group and come in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow to purple. Nightshade vegetables also include eggplant, bell peppers and potatoes. Botanically, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but most of us consider it a vegetable and I will too for the purposes of this blog. As far as phytonutrients go, they are chock full of them. In addition to being a good source of vitamins C and K, betacarotene, and lycopene they are also good sources of vitamin E, folate, potassium and the mineral manganese.
All of these phytonutrients support cardiovascular health by keeping the blood vessels clear, regulating fats in the blood and decreasing bad cholesterol. A new area of research also shows that lycopene is beneficial to bone health. Lastly, tomatoes have immune-boosting anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, specifically on the prostrate, breast, pancreas and lung. The antioxidants A and C fight the free radicals that cause cell damage which can lead to cancer.
One fact that Mama Jess is particularly proud of is that cooked tomatoes (found in jarred sauces) actually make the nutrients of tomatoes 2 times as more bioavailable to our bodies! And in combination with olive oil, it helps our body absorb those nutrients too. There are several studies on prostrate cancer and jarred tomato sauces that found they can cut the risk by 22%. One of Mama Jess’ great recipes for tomato-power is a Triple Tomato Topped Pizza (simply top your pizza crust with Mama Jess Bean Good, sliced sun-dried tomatoes and fresh sliced tomatoes!)
After reading all of that, I’m sure that you are convinced, like I am to eat way more tomatoes! So here is my recipe for Chicken Enchilada Soup :
I hope that you and your family enjoy this soup as much as I have! Enjoy your fall. Until next time!
Mama Jess Contributor