Congratulations to last week’s zucchini contest winner: Elizabeth T. from Milton, MA!  Her recipe for Zucchini “Fries” got double thumbs up.  Check out the recipe below.  A HealthBarn magnet is on its way, Elizabeth!  Now onto this week’s contest…

Vine-ripened tomatoes are everywhere

There is simply nothing like an end-of-summer tomato.  In the northeast, tomatoes are at their peak season in August and September—sometimes even into October, if you’re lucky.  Right now, the ones we are harvesting at HealthBarn are sweet, juicy, and irresistible.  The kids have learned that not all tomatoes turn red when they’re ripe.  Some of the most delicious varieties are green or yellow when ripe, and they come in all sizes, from grape-sized to softball-sized!

The tomato, like eggplant, is another “vegetable” that’s actually a fruit.  And these fruits are packed to the brim with nutrients.  Lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect the immune system, is found in high quantities in the skins of tomatoes.  They are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a good way to get a boost of vitamin K, dietary fiber and potassium, too.

Even better, most kids already know and like tomatoes, so it’s easy to feed to the family in salads, in pasta dishes or on sandwiches.  And since they’re so sweet and flavorful on their own, the best tomato recipes are often the simplest ones.  Homemade tomato sauce, for instance, is much less work than you’d expect (just cook tomatoes until they break down), and salsa is just a few chops away.  Pull together a simple tomato salad in minutes by

Tomatoes as big as our faces!

drizzling sliced tomatoes with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Or just bite in like an apple!  Just watch for dribbling juices.

Now, tell us what you love about tomato season!  Do you use your Italian grandma’s tomato sauce recipe?  Or maybe you specialize in fresh tomato bisque?  A Spanish gazpacho?  Share your favorite recipe with us by Thursday, September 6 and we will announce the winner on Monday, September 10, along with the following week’s ingredient.  We can’t wait to hear about your best healthy tomato recipe!

All submissions should be sent to [email protected].  Please include your name, hometown, and a picture of your dish, if possible.  For more details on the contest and the types of recipes we’re looking for, check out our introductory post.

Zucchini “Fries”

Baked zucchini spears get browned and crispy on the outside, like French fries, but they’re way more nutritious and we think more delicious!  The optional paprika and cumin are a great way to introduce more flavor, but just salt and pepper are fine, too!

4 medium zucchini

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Salt and black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut zucchini into spears: Cut lengthwise into eighths.  Cut each spear in half, cross-wise, so you have spears about the length of your average French fry.

2. Toss zucchini spears with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and paprika and cumin, if using.

3. Spread zucchini spears on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender and lightly browned.

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