There are so many ways to love a tomato, and summer is the best season to eat them until your heart and belly are content! Slice up big beefsteak tomatoes for sandwiches, toss grape tomatoes in salads, or simmer plum tomatoes into sauces --these are just a few ways to up your intake of this in-season garden staple.
Not only are tomatoes are delicious, they are also good for our bodies, packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and lycopene – the perfect nutrient boost for any meal. Americans eat between 22 to 24 pounds of tomatoes a year, although about half of that is in the form of ketchup and tomato sauce! I’m trying to break my kids of their crazy-big ketchup habit (most brands have a lot of added corn syrup or sugar) and encourage them to put more fresh tomatoes on their plates.
One way we’ve been working more fresh tomatoes into the family diet is with easy summer salads like my recipe for Ranch Tomato Salad with Ancho Chile Honey Granola. The two things most kids love most about this fresh side dish is the taste and creaminess of ranch dressing (or dip) and the crunch factor of granola. If skeptical youngsters balk at the idea of eating a vegetable topped with granola, remind them that tomatoes are, botanically speaking, a fruit!
The granola is sweetened naturally with honey and a chili powder adds a light amount of spicy heat. It’s not too hot, but you can adjust the amount up or down according to our preferences. Pepita (pumpkin) and flax seeds, almonds and coconut oil add satiating, heart-healthy fats to this unique and addictive granola. It’s also so easy to make, no baking required -- it just take 10 minutes to whip up in a skillet! The recipe makes a bit more than you need to top the tomato salad, so leftovers can be eaten “as-is” for a sack, sprinkled atop a green salad, or used as a crispy topping on baked fish or chicken.
For the dressing, I’ve used the crowd-pleasing OPAdipity by Litehouse Creamy Ranch Dip – it’s lower in calories and higher in protein thanks to a Greek yogurt base – and, of course, no preservatives or MSG. This seemingly indulgent, but surprising healthy dip is the perfect picnic or potluck pairing with a platter or cut-up veggies – or as a thicker dressing on a salad like Ancho Chile Honey Granola! Enjoy!