Lycopene heaven

I love tomatoes. So the current outbreak of salmonella is very disturbing. Then I heard what it is that spreads salmonella to the tomatoes: fecal matter. One possibility is that feces can be directly spread by animals when they step onto infected droppings, then tread through open fields. Indirectly, animal waste is used to create manure, and while most pathogens are killed through the composting process, but some can survive and is subsequently spread when the infected manure is used to fertilize fields. Worse, some of the pathogens find their way to water sources–irrigation streams, ground water–and can infect the tomatoes that way. In other words, tomato lovers are screwed.

I swear, this total bullshit–no pun intended

I love tomatoes. I’ve been eating it all my life. How can salmonella infect tomatoes now when we have all this technology, when you rarely heard of this kind of widespread infection back in the days when you bought tomatoes from local fields? Isn’t science supposed to save us?

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. I can’t believe I can’t eat raw tomatoes. I use tomatoes in my sandwiches. I put the a couple of slices of a tomato with a dollop of mayonnaise and I’m in heaven–what is it with tomatoes and mayonnaise? This particular combination is incredibly flavorful. Put the mayonnaise anywhere else in the sandwich or hamburger and the whole taste will change. I also love Tex-Mex food. How the hell am I gonna eat salsa with no tomatoes? Tacos with not tomatoes? Man, who can eat a salad without tomatoes? I sweat, I’m gonna go crazy.

The single saving grace in all this is that heat kills salmonella. If tomatoes are cooked to the boiling point–salmonella dies when it reaches 160 degrees–then you can eat the tomato product. The added benefit, amazingly enough, is that cooked tomatoes contain a lot of lycopene, one of the most effective purveyors of antioxidants. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should start chugging ketchup–too much sugar. But you can eat tomato sauce, which is something I also love.

I love spaghetti–although it does nothing for my girlish figure. But that isn’t the only way to use cooked tomatoes. I also use tomato sauce to make a pot roast–seared chuck roast in a dutch oven with onions, carrots, olives, rosemary, thyme and the tomato sauce (or canned crushed tomatoes) cooked in the oven for about 3 to 3.5 hours at about 200 degrees makes for a very tender and scrumptious meal. You’re supposed to let the roast set for at least 20 minutes before you eat it, but I usually can’t wait–who cares if it doesn’t slice perfectly. You can do this with breaded chicken breasts, except cooked at a higher heat–about 400 degrees–for 20 minutes. I also saute fresh chopped tomatoes with mushrooms and basil and ladle it over tofu steaks–tofu cut into half-inch thick squares and seared in a pan like a steak–for my own tofu pomadoro. But the other day, I made a dish my Dad used to cook for us when we were kids. Saute garlic and three slices bacon chopped, then add sliced onions, mushrooms, chopped fresh tomatoes and seasoning (salt, pepper and about a tbs. of sugar). Bring to boil. When tomatoes look soft, spread two beaten eggs lightly on top, cover and let simmer for a few minutes until the eggs are done; thoroughly mix and serve on bread.

As a result of all this cooked tomatoes lately, we are in lycopene heaven. Of course, I should be exercising as well. The body creates a harmful amount of oxidants when you exercise vigorously, and what the heck is the use of all this lycopene and antioxidants without the oxidants?

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