Tomatoes: pretty and good for you by Sam Ford

tomatoesTomatoes are such an integral part of the Mediterranean diet that it is hard to believe that they didn’t originate here. Only arriving in Europe in the 16th century, tomatoes were primarily cultivated in central and south America. And whilst botanically they are classified as a fruit there is still some discussion over who actually brought them here. Was it Columbus or a couple of Mexican priests? Who knows, but they have certainly settled in well!


Rich in vitamins C, A and B, tomatoes also contain a nutrient called lycopene, an anti-oxidant, which is thought to have great anti-cancer properties too. Lycopene is one of those nutrients which benefits from cooking though. Not only does cooking aid the release of lycopene, it helps with the body’s absorption of it too. This is promoted even further when the tomatoes are cooked and served with olive oil.


In this recipe I’ve cooked the tomatoes with some red onion, garlic and herbs/spices, namely coriander and cumin. The flavour of cumin goes brilliantly with tomatoes; it is also a great digestive aid and appetite stimulant, thus supporting liver function. Coriander, whilst helping digestion too, is believed to be able to alleviate nausea and mental stress.


The beans I’ve used in the recipe are haricots coco. They were just so pretty I couldn’t resist them! If you can’t find any you can substitute them with red kidney or borlotti beans. All part of the same vegetable family, beans have many health benefits. Obviously a great source of fibre, they are low in fat but rich in protein. They are helpful for people with diabetes because they are low on the Glycaemic Index and help maintain blood sugar levels accordingly. Their soluble fibre content also interferes with the absorption of dietary cholesterol so they are believed to help lower cholesterol levels too.


For more seasonal and nutritional recipe ideas check Sam’s blog at

Based in Barjac, Gard, Sam is also available for private catering, dinner parties and gîte/holiday catering in the local area
Tel. 07 88 43 67 50