We visited our daughter for Parent Weekend Fri-Sat and had a chance to see an amazing project at her college that she is participating in . . . a Garden House. There are 2 young men and 4 young ladies all living here growing their own produce, canning, freezing and sustaining themselves mainly on what they've grown. They also belong to a local co-op and purchase items they couldn't grow through the co-op.
They have grown lots and lots of lettuce and other greens, radishes, pickles, every variety and of tomato you could imagine, broccoli, pumpkins, peppers, eggplant and probably lots of other things I'm forgetting!
The guys designed and created this beautiful herb garden. They've also dried and frozen lots and lots of herbs as well as making their own pesto for the freezer.
A large whiteboard is filled with goals, menus (each person cooks for the 'family' one night a week), grocery lists, budget, garden chores and more!
On Friday, we walked in to the guys blanching pounds and pounds of broccoli for freezing! You just can't imagine what these kids are able to pump out of this tiny kitchen! They have a giant chest freezer that is filled to the top with all they've put aside for the winter months! As I said, this is a new project at their college and they have totally impressed me with their knowledge and all they've accomplished on their own!
Like I said, they (and WE) have tons and tons of tomatoes so I'm always sending my daughter recipes to use them up! Here are two that I just made and oh my . . . are they good!
Tomato and Basil Salad
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T minced onion (I used green onions)
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 1/4 c yellow pear tomatoes, halved
2 1/4 c red cherry tomatoes, halved
4 large basil leaves cut into slender ribbons
Combine vinegar and onion. Let sit 15 minutes. Combine with other vinaigrette ingredients and toss with the tomatoes and basil shreds. NOTE: I had these lovely purple ant yellow tomatoes from "the Garden House" and the red cherry tomatoes from my garden but use whatever you have.
Tomato Spinach Soup
2 T margarine/butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
2 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
10 large tomatoes, pureed (end up with about 10 cups of puree)
1/3 cup sugar
3 c fresh spinach leaves
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
Melt margarine in large pot and saute onion and garlic for 3 min. Stir in milk and cook for two minutes. Stir in puree and sugar. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Add spinach, basil, salt, pepper and sour cream. Simmer two more minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan to serve. (NOTE: For health reasons I used skim milk, fat-free sour cream and Stevia (in place of the sugar) ).
So with all of the tomatoes we've been eating, I wondered what the health benefits were . . .
One of the most well known tomato eating benefits is its' Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases. No other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene that the tomato does!
Studies in the scientific community have proven the benefits in preventing cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol
Loaded with Vitamin A they can help prevent and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and night blindness. This vitamin is also good for keeping the hair shiny and strong and is good for the bones, skin and teeth.
In most expensive facial cleansers, Lycopene is present. One of the best ways of using tomatoes for skin care is to take about 8 to 10 tomatoes and peel their skin. Later, lay back and then place the skins of tomato on the face or other parts of the skin. Be sure to keep the inner side of the tomato skin against the skin and leave for about 10 minutes. Then wash your face, you face will look cleaner and may be more shiny. Though, your skin might also be a little pinkish or red, but it will wear away. (WELL, this is what they say . . . I haven't tried this yet!)
The Lycopene content actually INCREASES with cooking! So tomato paste contains four times more Lycopene that in fresh tomatoes.
Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
I for one am adding this amazing fruit (yep, they're fruits, not vegetables) to my daily diet! What is one thing YOU feel you have to have each day to feel healthy? Chocolate maybe :)