Tomatoes may have made a circuitous route to North America from its native habitat in Mexico and South America. It is believed to have been first cultivated by the Aztecs, who used this as a side dish to their unsavory eating practices. The Spaniards brought the fruit to Europe where it enjoyed mixed reviews. Classified in the same category as the deadly nightshade, many people believed the tomato to be uneatable.
While the tomato is used most specifically as a vegetable, it is botanically classified a fruit. The French called the bright orange red fruit “pommes d’amour,”– apples of love, possibly a corruption of “pomi dei mori”, (apple of the Moors) brought back by Spanish Moors to Morocco.
It was in Paris, France that Thomas Jefferson first tasted the fruit and sent home seeds: however, an earlier reference to tomatoes in South Carolina (William Salmon, herbalist) suggests that they were introduced from the Caribbean in the early 1700’s. While earliest fruit was likely small and yellow, tomatoes now come in hundreds of varieties and are enjoyed throughout the world.
Tomatoes have a treasure trove of nutritional benefits; they are excellent sources of vitamins C, A and K as well as good sources of potassium, manganese, vitamins B6, B3 and B1, copper, magnesium, vitamin E, phosphorus and iron. They also contain lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient widely recognized for its antioxidant properties. They are heart healthy, having been linked to reduction of fats in our bloodstreams. If you haven’t already done so, consider adding tomatoes to your diet. It’s the right choice for a healthy lifestyle.
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Garlic salt—to taste
Three Green onions—chopped, green parts included
1 Yellow Pepper
One Jalapeño pepper
½ cup chopped Cilantro (optional)
Pepper –to taste
Onion Salt—to taste
1-2 T. Corn
1-2 T Black beans
Seed and chop chilies using a fork to hold them. Try to avoid touching these, use soap and water to thoroughly wash up after finishing and be sure to keep hands away from your face and eyes for several hours afterwards. Reserve some seeds to add if salsa is not hot enough for your tastes.
Mix in remaining ingredients. Adjust to taste by adding extra tomato if too hot or a few seeds if not hot enough. Seeds from the Jalapeño are extremely hot—use sparingly.
Serve with Tortilla chips.