Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with These Green Tomato Recipes

St. Patrick’s Day has arrived (or at least it will tomorrow) and there are two main techniques for celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. One is to celebrate the culture and heritage of the Irish, most often in food and drink. The other is to focus on anything and everything the color green. We’ve all seen or heard of green beer, but green food coloring doesn’t stop there. There are green shamrock cookies and other foods made artificially green for the occasion. The way we see it, though, you don’t have to be artificial to go green for St. Patty’s Day!

Hello Green Tomatoes!

We love tomatoes when they’re firm, juicy and bright red, especially if they’re Tasti-Lee tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean green tomatoes aren’t great too! You usually find two types of green tomatoes. The first is just an unripe tomato. The second is a green tomato variety (usually heirloom) that will keep its green color when fully ripe. Either way, there are many great recipes out there for green tomatoes that will be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. And you don’t have to use any artificial colors!

Appetizers and Salads

Which course will your green tomato dish be tomorrow? There are so many, you could probably have them for every course, but we’ll divide the recipes up so you can pick and choose.

First, we have appetizers and salads!

How about a yummy Green Tomato Salsa Verde, made with green tomatoes instead of the traditional tomatillos? Serve with yummy tortilla chips, and if you REALLY want to stick to the whole “green” theme, pick spinach tortilla chips.

2.-Green-Tomato-Salsa

Something a little more elegant, perhaps? These Green Tomato Tartines could do the trick!

12.-Green-Tomato-Tartines

If you want to have a salad for St. Patrick’s Day, try this fresh Green Tomato Southwestern Panzanella Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing.

5.-Green-Tomato-Southwestern-Panzanella-Salad-with-Cilantro-Lime-Dressing

A twist on the classic Caprese, this Oven Fried Green Tomato Caprese is a salad with attitude.

16.-Oven-Fried-Green-Tomato-Caprese

Main Dish

Here are some delicious options for your green tomato entrée:

Green Tomato and Leek Frittata

8.-Green-Tomato-and-Leek-Frittata

Grilled Green Tomato Tostadas with Black Beans, Avocado and Cilantro (this one will go well with the green tomato salsa verde appetizer!)

10.-Grilled-Green-Tomato-Tostada

You can’t go wrong with a Green Tomato Galette.

18.-Green-Tomato-Galette

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Posted in For the Holidays

5 Rules for Your Tomato Garden

It’s almost time to start thinking about that tomato garden! Just think about it, cutting warm, juicy tomatoes, right off the vine, for a yummy lunchtime BLT or tomato sandwich. We’re drooling just thinking about it! But first, we need to grow those tomatoes.

Tomatoes are actually one of the easiest fruits to grow in warm/hot climates (though if it’s too hot, you may need a shade cloth so your tomatoes don’t burn), so there isn’t much room for growing wrong, but, there are still some rules to follow, if you want your tomato garden to be the best it can be.

  1. Choose the right variety. Not all tomato varieties grow well in every climate. Decide what type of tomato you want to grow and double-check that it does well in your area. Keep in mind that heirloom tomato varieties are more prone to disease, but this doesn’t mean heirloom tomatoes wouldn’t be successful. Just be aware of the pros and cons of the types of tomato you may want for your garden.
  2. Plant two to four feet apart. Two feet in between your tomato plants is the absolute minimum. If they start crowding each other, there isn’t good air circulation and the sun exposure will be more uneven.
  3. Stake them. A tomato cage or stake that you tie your plant to, that will keep the branches and fruit off the ground, is best to ensure your fruit doesn’t rot. Plus, keeping the plant growing up improves air circulation and sun exposure.
  4. Mound the dirt. Arrange the dirt into dips and mounds, the mounds being where you will plant the tomatoes. Deep watering is best for tomatoes and planting on a mound, but watering in the dips, helps them get the water they need without adding moisture around the base of the stem, which could lead to rot/disease.
  5. Plant companion plants. There are a few insects that love going after tomatoes, but, by planting the proper companion plants, you can help keep tomato-loving pests away naturally. Our favorite companion plants are marigolds and basil.

Throw a Few Tasti-Lees into the Mix

Did you know you can grow your own Tasti-Lee tomatoes? Just because we developed them to give you that homegrown taste in the convenience of your grocery store doesn’t mean that can’t be homegrown. You can buy plants online from Burpee Gardens at http://www.burpee.com/vegetables/tomatoes/slicer/tomato-tasti-lee-hybrid-prod003158.html?omn2pd=sh&catId=&.

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Posted in Tomato Garden

Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring Planting

In many parts of the country, it’s time to get those gardens ready for spring planting and we can’t wait for homegrown fruits and veggies! Gardening takes more than just sticking a plant in a random section of dirt, however. (Although that doesn’t mean the “just sticking it in the dirt” strategy never works). Here are a few tips from the team over at Tasti-Lee tomatoes to help you set a good foundation for your spring veggie garden.

  • Designate your planting area(s). Figure out where you want to plant what and create the space. A raised planter is great, but you can also just use rocks or borders to cordon off the space. Remember to take the amount of sun in your planting area into account. Not every fruit or veggie works as well in the same spot.
  • De-weed in two rounds. You may have noticed some weeds creeping in as the weather has started getting warmer. Pull out all the weeds, even the itty bitty ones, then till the soil. Loosen it up and turn over six to 12 inches down. Then wait a week and pull out any more weeds that start to grow.
  • Add compost at least 1 week before planting. You can add compost when you plant, but it’s actually best to add the compost to the loosened soil and then mix it in. This way, the compost has time to seep its nutrients into the surrounding soil.
  • Do a final de-weeding. After adding compost, you may notice more weeds coming in. Pull out any more weeds right before planting.

Happy Planting!

Homegrown fruits and veggies don’t just taste great, they are often healthier than store bought produce. Plus, growing your own saves money and helps you lead a more sustainable lifestyle. It just take s a little work.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the space to plant a whole vegetable garden, but that doesn’t mean you have to do without homegrown flavor! Tasti-Lee tomatoes were developed to give you that backyard taste in the convenience of a grocery store tomato. When you can’t grown your own, we’re the next best thing!

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Posted in Tomato Garden

Dietary Habits and Arthritis: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Welcome back to the Tasti-Lee blog for our second post in our arthritis blog series. In the first post, we discussed the potential danger of eating tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables when you have arthritis. Today, we will discuss the good and the bad when it comes to other foods, drinks and other items.

Again, we have to emphasize that this does not constitute medical advice. We are simply relating information we have gathered ourselves online & from books such as Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.

Now, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Foods to Watch Out For

Even if various people have arthritis, no one is the same. We want to stress that certain foods affect individuals differently, but there are certain items that are bad for most, if not all, people with arthritic conditions. These items include:

  • Alcohol
  • Coffee (caffeine, in general, isn’t good)
  • Refined sugar (or too much of any sweet product/food)
  • Tobacco

coffee

Other “Not So Good” Foods

Dairy foods (EXCEPT fermented dairy, like yogurt, and goat’s milk products) are said to worsen arthritic conditions, but this does not necessarily apply to everyone. If you have arthritis and consume dairy, try cutting it out for at least two weeks to see if there’s improvement.

Despite what you may think, not all fruits and vegetables are good for people with arthritis. Due to a compound called oxalic acid, which affects calcium absorption, people with arthritis should limit foods like:

  • Spinach (baby spinach is said to be better than mature spinach)
  • Plum
  • Cranberry
  • Beet greens
  • Chard

Avoiding nuts (EXCEPT almonds and walnuts) and nut butters is also supposed to help improve arthritic symptoms/conditions.

Foods to Love

It may seem like you can’t eat anything, but there are fortunately a lot of foods that are said to lessen arthritic symptoms and even improve calcium absorption and/or metabolism. Some of these foods are:

  • Dark berries
  • Fatty fish
  • Seaweed
  • Alfalfa
  • Whole grains (soak before cooking)
  • Goat’s milk products
  • Asparagus
  • Cherries
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Olive oil
  • Broccoli
  • Legumes (beans/lentils – also soak before cooking)

Final Words

In the end, you’ll have to discuss with your doctor what is best for you and your specific arthritic condition, but this information can provide you with some general tips.

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Posted in Health & Beauty

Tomatoes and Arthritis: What’s the Deal?

Tomatoes are full of beneficial nutrients, but, as healthy as they are, tomatoes aren’t necessarily good for everyone. Aside from the obvious, like people with tomato allergies, tomatoes may be bad for people suffering from arthritic conditions.

In this two-part blog series, we’ll cover why tomatoes may be bad, as well as take a look at other dietary habits that can worsen or improve arthritic symptoms and/or conditions. Just to clarify, this is based on our own research and should NOT be considered medical advice.

What Do You Mean “May” Be Bad?

The truth is, no two people are the same. Tomatoes, and other vegetables in the Nightshade family (eggplant, bell pepper, potato), are generally considered bad for people with arthritis because they contain a compound that interferes with calcium metabolism, but this doesn’t necessarily hold true for everyone. Some people may see an improvement in their arthritis pain after cutting out tomatoes and other Nightshade vegetables while it makes no difference for others.

How to Determine If You Need to Cut Out Tomatoes

If you want to see if tomatoes are worsening your arthritis, there’s an easy way to check: Cut all tomatoes (and other Nightshade veggies) out of your diet for at least two weeks. If you notice a difference, then your body is reacting to those foods and you should cut them out or severely restrict them. If you don’t notice anything, then your body is probably not having an adverse reaction to them (time for tomato-lovers to cheer!).

Cutting out tomatoes and Nightshade vegetables are only one of the changes in diet that can alleviate certain symptoms of arthritis, if your body is responsive to it. Visit our blog again in a couple of weeks for part 2 of our blog series where we’ll discuss other food and drink items that may impact arthritic conditions.

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Posted in Health & Beauty, Tomato Facts

Fresh vs. Canned Tomatoes: Which Are Better?

In the late fall and winter, many people reach for the canned tomatoes instead of fresh. They believe that fresh ones don’t taste as well as the canned variety. Unfortunately, canned tomatoes aren’t necessarily better and could even be causing health problems.

Lycopene & Other Nutrients

Tomatoes in cans are cooked. When tomatoes are heated, they release more lycopene for the body to absorb, which is good, but, while cooking increases lycopene, it decreases other nutrients, like Vitamin C.

BPA Risk

In March 2012, the FDA decided to not ban the use of BPA in food and drink packaging. BPA is a chemical that has been linked to infertility, heart disease, and diabetes. Canned tomatoes have a considerably higher level of BPA because the acidity in the tomatoes draws the BPA out of the can. Even cans that state they are BPA-Free may have some of the chemical in them or another chemical referred to as BPS, which can have similar health risks.
If you’re going to use canned, it’s best to make your own and store in glass jars.

The Alternative to Canned Tomatoes

At Tasti-Lee, we always grow tomatoes with health, flavor, and freshness in mind. We are committed to providing our customers with only the best no matter what time of the year it is. This is why we recommend using only fresh tomatoes or home-canned tomatoes in salads and recipes. You can’t find the same health benefits in traditional canned tomatoes, and there’s nothing like that fresh tomato taste!

For more information about Tasti-Lee and where you can find our tomatoes, visit our website at http://tastilee.com/.

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Posted in Tomato Facts

Tomato Science Brings Blight-Resistant Tomato to UK

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Gardeners in the United Kingdom are happy right now. Scientists have discovered a type of tomato that resists pesky blight. Blight is a tomato disease that’s common, especially for amateur tomato growers. With these tomatoes, many budding tomato growers will be motivated to continue planting instead of becoming frustrated when their entire garden becomes useless due to disease.

About the Research

Scientists have grown a strain of tomatoes that will not be affected by blight. The research took eight years, and it was worth the wait. The breeders, Simon Crawford and Bangor University PhD student James Stroud were the ones who developed this type of tomato. Mr. Crawford found out about it when he was gardening in 2006. He had a whole garden of tomatoes that died of blight, except for one plant. One tomato plant survived, so he decided he was going to find out why, and that’s where it all began.

Mr. Crawford partnered up with Dr. Stoud and they started to breed that one tomato plant to see if they could produce more tomato plants that were resistant to blight. Through breeding they were able to create tomato plants with the PH2 and PH3 genes. These genes are resistant to the pathogen.

With the gene in hand, the researchers have started to grow them in a nursery in East Yorkshire. They have called the tomatoes Crimson Crush. They should be ready for purchase in January and will cost £7.99 for three. It’s a hefty price to pay, but the guarantee of blight free plants make it worth the cost.

Preventing Blight in Your Tomato Garden

Blight can be a very annoying disease to deal with when growing tomato plants. Once it strikes, there not much a gardener can do but say good bye to all of his or her hard work.

Preventing blight is possible, but for amateur tomato growers, it can be difficult. It’s important to plant tomatoes with enough space in between them. You shouldn’t water tomato plants from above, but instead, water at the root. Try to keep your plants from being exposed to cold, wet weather. Don’t plant your seedlings too early because that’s what usually initiates the blight. You can also purchase sprays that can help prevent blight from the start. Be sure to read the label of the product you purchase and use it correctly.

If blight attacks one plant, remove it from the garden immediately. Place it in a plastic bag and seal it. Blight is contagious, which is why an entire garden can die from it. If you can isolate the first plant, you may be able to save your garden.

Planting a Tasti-Lee Tomato Garden

If you want to plant a Tasti-Lee tomato garden from seeds, there are quite a few places where you can purchase them:

Happy Gardening tomato fans!

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Posted in Tomato News

Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?

You’re eating your favorite tomato dish and accidently spill some of it the floor. Fido races to the casualty and happily cleans up the mess. Oh no! Tomatoes!

Many people have heard that tomatoes are toxic to dogs. This is untrue. If your dog eats tomatoes, he or she will be okay.

Why Tomatoes Aren’t Bad for Dogs

Tomatoes have alpha-tomatine. This substance can be harmful to dogs in extremely large quantities. Tomatoes do not have enough of this substance to make your dog ill.

The leaves and stems of tomato plants have a lot more alpha-tomatine in them, but even though it’s more concentrated, it’s still not enough to make Fido fatally ill. Fido would have to eat a tremendous amount of leaves and stems to cause toxicity.

What May Happen to Tomato Eating Dogs

dog-tomatoTomatoes are acidic and a dog’s intestinal tract has a difficult time absorbing the alph-tomatine, which can end up causing a dog some discomfort. Some dogs will vomit or just be sluggish after eating tomatoes due to an upset stomach. It’s best to give dogs with an upset stomach a lot of love and cuddling. This will make them feel much better until their stomach follows suit.

It is important to note, though, that dog with arthritic conditions should not eat tomatoes as they can make their condition worse. Tomatoes mess with calcium absorption and tend to make joint problems worse. It is the same for humans.

Takeaways for Tomatoes and Dogs

The good news is that you have nothing to worry about if your dog ingests tomatoes. You can be rest assured he will be okay. If he ends up in a tomato patch and eats a lot of leaves and stems, then you should probably take him into the veterinarian office for an evaluation just to be sure he doesn’t need any medical care.

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Posted in Tomato Facts
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