Nutrition, recipes, Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient Is…The Tomato

Three Tomatoes on a vine

Since last month we profiled an exotic whole grain, this month we decided to focus on something a bit more well known. This time around we’re profiling what is possibly the most popular and versatile vegetables…or is it a fruit?  Actually, it’s a little bit of both. 

Scientifically, the tomato is considered a fruit because the seeds are held inside edible flesh.  Think of it as the “fruit” of the tomato plant, the same way an apple is the fruit of the apple tree.   But when it comes to cooking, tomatoes are considered vegetables since their flavor is better suited to savory dishes rather than dessert (eggplant and squash are other examples of fruits usually thought of as vegetables).

Regardless of whether you consider it a vegetable or fruit, fresh tomatoes are low in sodium and good sources of vitamins C, A and K as well as potassium, a crucial nutrient for balancing the body’s fluids and maintaining a regular heart beat.  Tomatoes are also excellent sources lycopene—an antioxidant that may help protect against some types of cancer (it’s also what gives tomatoes their bright red color).

Tomatoes vary in size and shape from small round cherry tomatoes, to oval shaped plum tomatoes, to large globe tomatoes most often sliced for use in sandwiches and burgers.  You can find fresh tomatoes at the grocery store (along with many tomato products like pasta sauce, tomato puree, salsa and ketchup) and your local farmers market.  Or, you can grow your own—tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow at home, and since they don’t require much space (just water and plenty of sun) they can be grown almost anywhere.  

Whether you grow your own or buy them from the market, your tomatoes will taste great in this recipe.  Use it as a side dish or as a topping for fish or poultry:

 Sweet Balsamic Tomatoes


2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix oil, vinegar and honey and pour over tomatoes. Roast tomato mixture for 8-10 minutes. 

Yield: About 4 servings


SODIUM: 8 mg
FIBER: 1 g
FAT: 7 g Sat Fat: 1 g

(Post content reviewed by MGH Nutrition Department. Photo Credit: Zsuzsanna Kilian )

3 thoughts on “The Secret Ingredient Is…The Tomato

  1. I thought that honey was one of the worst things a diabetic could ingest????
    (as per ingredients for sweet balsamic Tomatoes)

    1. You are correct that honey will affect your blood sugar in a similar fashion as white/brown sugar will, however this does not mean it needs to be banned from your diet. If consumed in limited amounts, with special attention also paid to the calorie contribution, honey can be a part of anyone’s diet (Diabetics included).

      Keep in mind, at a minimum those with Diabetes are encouraged to consume at least 130g of carbohydrates in a day. So per serving of the recipe, the honey is contributing approximately 9 grams of carbohydrates.

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