Spotlight on Tomatoes and Basil

What’s so good about Tomatoes?

From Tumbling Toms and Ailsa Craigs, to Marmande and Heirlooms, tomatoes are a firm British favourite thanks to their versatility and full flavour. Whether you like them sliced in a crunchy salad or prefer to whiz them up into a tasty pasta sauce, eating tomatoes regularly is good for your health.

Here are some juicy facts about tomatoes:

  • Tomatoes can come in different colours – from dark red, to orange to green! Contrary to what people might think, the colour doesn’t have much affect on the taste but they all include lots of essential nutrients.
  • Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium
  • They’re low in fat, high in fibre and a low-calorie source of many vitamins and minerals.
  • Research suggests tomatoes have another important nutritional benefit – they’re packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their bright red colour and may also have a role to play in lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Just one tomato or seven cherry tomatoes counts as one of the 5-a-day and contains just 15 calories and 0.3g fat. Try snacking on cherry tomatoes instead of crisps when hunger hits or make up a batch of homemade tomato soup to help fill you up.

Did you know there is a British Tomato Week? It runs from 19th – 25th May this year and it the tenth anniversary of the event so look out for tomato themed activities taking place around the country.

Brilliant Basil!

Basil and tomatoes are a wonderful cookery combination, especially within Mediterranean cuisine. Basil, an aromatic herb belonging to the mint family, is perhaps best known as the key ingredient in pesto, but here you can find out some fun facts about this aromatic plant.

  • Basil now grows in many regions throughout the world, but it was first native to India, Asia and Africa. It is prominently featured in cuisines throughout the world including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian.
  • The name “basil” is derived from the ancient Greek wordbasilikohn, which means “royal,” reflecting the culture’s attitudes towards a herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. Basil is also revered in other cultures, for example in India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy, it was a symbol of love.
  • Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese; a very good source of copper, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), and vitamin C.

Feeling stressed out? Basil can help to relax you. It contains phytochemicals that studies suggest may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re tense. 
Add a few leaves to  your salad or pop a few in a glass of chilled ice tea for a relaxing drink.