Tomatoes: Good heart food

Whether you pronounce it “tomah-toe” or “tomay-toe,” what nutritionists have preached for years finally gained scientific recognition in March: A University of Toronto scientist conducted a study which concluded that ketchup — and any dish using cooked tomatoes — is good for the heart and can offset the effects of harmful foods.

U of T nutrition scientist Venket Rao says tomatoes contain a natural chemical compound known as lycopene, which gives them their colour. The compound protects against heart disease and cancer due to a strong antioxidant property.

These lycopenes are best absorbed in the body when mixed with fats (Rao suggests healthier fats such as Canadian canola or Mediterranean olive oil). And, somewhat surprisingly, raw tomatoes don’t work as well as cooked ones.

Here are some great ideas to get your ticker purring and the tastebuds glowing.

Shangrila Cocktail
Research shows that one or two daily shots of alcohol helps ward off heart disease. This Mexican concoction also stimulates the appetite, acts as a “pick-you-up,” and feeds the soul. It was a favorite with actor W.C. Fields, who may have overindulged. His epitaph reads:n the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.”

PREPARATION: 3 minutes

PER SERVING: 94 calories. Excellent source of vitamins A and C and potassium.

2½ cups (625 mL) tomato juice, chilled
Juice of 2 large oranges
7 tbsp (95 mL) tequila
½ tsp (2 mL) hot pepper sauce
Crushed ice, made from pure spring water, preferably Manitou*
Orange slices

  1. Brush oranges under running lukewarm water. Rinse with cold and extract juice. Slice peels.
  2. Combine juices, tequila and hot pepper sauce in a large pitcher. Stir well.
  3. One-quarter fill 4 tall glasses with crushed ice. Fill with cocktail and garnish with orange slices. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.

CARP Garden Chowder
This savory award winner (from Anne Struthers of Kitchener, Ont.) is so deliciously thick and chunky, you won’t want anything else for lunch except a cup of tea (it’s also an antioxidant cancer preventer, especially if it’s green). Serve with crusty or toasted whole wheat bread. And better clip these unique recipes as they won’t appear in book form for at least a year.

PREPARATION: 22 minutes

COOKING: 35 minutes

FREEZING: excellent. Use within six months.

PER SERVING: 175 calories. No cholesterol. Excellent source of vitamin A and potassium. Good source of vitamin C, calcium and protein.

1 tbsp (15 mL) Canadian canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
1 can tomatoes (28 oz/796 mL) with juice
1 cup (250 mL) pure spring water, preferably Manitou*
2 tbsp (10 mL) powdered beef stock or 2 beef cubes
1/8 tsp (½ mL) hot red pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
½ tsp (2 mL) dried marjoram, crushed
½ tsp (2 mL) dried basil, crushed
¼ tsp (1 mL) dried savory, crushed
¼ tsp (1 mL) dried thyme, crushed
1/8 tsp (½ mL) ground mace
1 cup (250 mL) textured vegetable protein (TVP)**
1/3 cup (75 mL) macaroni

  1. In a medium saucepan, sauté first four ingredients in oil for 10 minutes over low heat. Stir.
  2. Add all other ingredients except last two. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Add last two ingredients. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Yield: 6 servings.


  1. Use chopped fresh tomatoes when available. Do not peel.
  2. In Step 2, add ½ cup (125 mL) canned or frozen corn niblets, cooked lima beans, chopped carrots and/or chopped zucchini and 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley.
  3. For a thinner version, add skim milk (fresh or reconstituted) or tomato juice.
  4. To thaw, leave overnight in refrigerator or microwave on High for 2 minutes.

Memory Lane Sauce (Salsa Di Pomidoro)
Since our vegetarian feature in the April issue of CARPNews, we’ve been flooded with requests for meatless gourmet recipes. Even hardcore steak eaters took our healthy tips to heart. So here’s a versatile pasta sauce submitted by Maria Casimiris of Genoa, Italy, triple-tested by Memory Lane chefs. And in her letter, Ms. Casimiris blesses North American natives for introducing Italians to the tomato. “Without your Indians,” she writes, “we wouldn’t have today’s Italian cuisine.” Use it as a topping for moussaka, stuffed cabbage or meat loaf as well as pasta. Sure, you can buy the canned variety, but none will taste as sublime as this one. And save the rest of the vermouth for your evening martini.

PREPARATION: 15 minutes

COOKING: 45 minutes

PER SERVING: 140 calories. Excellent source of potassium. Good source of vitamin A.

FREEZING: Excellent. Use within 10 months.

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 can plum tomatoes (28 oz/796 mL)
1 tbsp (15 mL) dry vermouth
1 tbsp (15 mL) pure spring water, preferably Manitou*
1/8 tsp (½ mL) black pepper, freshly ground
¼ tsp (1 mL) dried oregano
¼ tsp (1 mL) dried thyme
¼ cup (50 mL) boiling pure spring water, preferably Manitou*
Canola cookware spray

  1. Spray a heavy saucepan and sauté garlic, onions and carrots. Add water and vermouth. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients. Remove cover and simmer over low heat 35 minutes. Sauce should barely “shudder.” Do not boil!
  3. If you’re as fussy as some of our Italian master chefs, you can now strain the sauce through a sieve and serve over cooked linguine or spaghetti. Yield: 4 servings.


Anyone for delectable low-fat Bolognese Sauce? Here’s how to beat your favorite local Italian restaurant at the game of delicioso!

1 lb (453 g) lean ground beef
¼ cup (50 mL) Canadian dry red wine
2 tbsp (25 mL) tomato paste
7 grains ground nutmeg

PREPARATION: 8 minutes

COOKING: 55 minutes

FREEZING: excellent. Use within 6 months.

PER SERVING: 160 calories. No cholesterol. Excellent source of potassium and protein. Good source vitamin A.

  1. Spray saucepan. Brown the meat for 10 minutes. Separate with a wooden spoon.
  2. When no more pink remains, transfer to a colander and strain under boiling hot water. Set aside. Rinse saucepan under boiling water.
  3. Add all ingredients including tomato sauce, strained or unstrained, to the saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. It should barely “shudder.”
  4. Serve hot on cooked pasta or allow to cool, then freeze. Yield: 5 servings.

More Tips

  1. For extra “oomph” and richness, add 2 stalks celery, chopped, and 1/2 green pepper, diced, when sautéing the onion and carrot mixture. If you like, add one or 2 bay leaves and a dash or two of cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce.
  2. Be creative. Use a combination of ground beef, pork and veal. Get rid of the fat under running hot water.
  3. Add ½ cup (125 mL) of washed sliced mushrooms during the last 15 minutes of cooking and a dash of nutmeg.
  4. If you have a decent freezer, you can double or triple the recipe.


*Available in health-food stores or dial 1-888-MANITOU.

**Available in health-food stores under such brand names as So Soya.