It is believed that tomatoes originated in Peru where the Aztec name meant, “plump thing with a navel.” The tomato is technically considered a fruit, but the government classified it as a veggie so they could tax it under custom regulations. The USDA found that each American eats about 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per year. Half of those pounds are in the form of ketchup and tomato sauce. Around 93% of Americans who garden grow tomatoes. The world’s largest tomato tree was grown at Walt Disney World Resort in an experimental greenhouse. It holds the record for producing the most tomatoes in a year. It produced 32,000 tomatoes in 16 months.
Tomatoes have been considered a functional food, meaning it goes beyond just the basic nutrients. Around 200 years ago tomatoes were believed to be poisonous because it is apart of the nightshade family that has several plants that are truly poisonous. Tomatoes can help prevent the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer, with its vitamin C and antioxidants. They help with Heart health, diabetes, blood pressure and more. Tomatoes are great form of folic acid intake for pregnant women and helps protect against neural tube defects in infants. The Folic acid can also help with depression when excess amounts of homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep and appetite.
Recipe: Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
4 tomatoes - peeled, seeded and diced
4 cups tomato juice
14 leaves fresh basil
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
. Place tomatoes and juice in a stock pot over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the tomato mixture along with the basil leaves, and return the puree to the stock pot. . Place the pot over medium heat, and stir in the heavy cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Do not boil.