Monday, August 10, 2009

Raw Garden Salsa with Cherry Tomatoes - Rich with Lycopene

Shopping in my garden for salsa ingredients.

Raw garden salsa with optional fresh corn.

Summer's Bounty
One of the best things about summer is the abundance of vine ripened tomatoes. You know, the ones that actually taste like tomatoes unlike the ones we buy in the winter at the local grocery store. And then there are the cherry tomatoes. You can't pick them fast enough. I love "shopping" in my garden and this morning I picked a basket of cherry tomatoes, some basil and a few small jalapenos. To this I'll add the garlic I've already harvested and I've got most of the ingredients for today's raw garden salsa. This recipe is low in calories and saturated fat and has no cholesterol.

Nutritional Benefits of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are packed with vitamin C. One cup provides about half of your daily requirement. Since this vitamin is very heat sensitive, this raw salsa will preserve its vitamin C content. Tomatoes also contain lots of vitamin A, K, potassium and manganese. They are a very good source of fiber and are most noted for their high content of lycopene. This well publicized carotenoid is known to have high antioxidant and cancer fighting properties.

As a strong antioxidant, Lycopene has been shown to help prevent heart disease. This phytochemical has also been associated with the reduction of numerous types of cancers such as prostate, lung, pancreatic and intestinal cancers. Because carotenoids are fat soluble, they are more effective when eaten with high fat foods. I've added a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to this salsa recipe for that purpose. To get a similar effect, and an added taste treat, you can substitute half a chopped avocado for the olive oil. Some studies show that cooked tomatoes have more of an affect in reducing prostate cancer although raw tomatoes also showed some benefit.

How to Serve
For a completely "raw" appetizer, serve with zucchini slices or raw chips (see my April 14, 2009 post for raw jalapeno corn chips), or buy your favorite healthy chip. I like to serve Trader Joe's "hemp tortilla chips with black sesame seeds".This salsa also makes a great topping for grilled salmon or you can try adding it to your favorite taco or burrito recipe. Or, if you're in the mood for pasta, mix an extra tablespoon of olive oil into the garden salsa and throw it on top of hot whole wheat fusilli.


Raw Garden Salsa with Cherry Tomatoes
[serves 4 without corn or 6 with the optional fresh corn]
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved depending on size
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons scallion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped, about 1 tablespoon
2 packed tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
2 shakes of black pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or 1/2 chopped avocado)
1 cup fresh corn kernels, about 1 large ear - optional

Gently mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve.

Per serving (without corn, 4 servings): 50 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 0.5 g protein, 4.4 g carbohydrates and 1.0 g of fiber.

Per serving (with corn, 6 servings): 55 calories, 2.7 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 1.2 g protein, 7.8 g carbohydrates and 1.3 g of fiber.

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