|An apple a day ... still||Sep. 17, 2003|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|It's a delicious time of year. Everyone I know who has a backyard garden is talking about their wonderful tomatoes. The fall apples are starting to appear and baskets of peaches are ripe and well priced for eating or making into pies, cobblers, jams or preserving for later in the winter. Let's take a look at some of the season's best:
TOMATOES: Tomatoes are a source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and potassium. They contain almost no sodium or fat and one tomato contains just 35 calories. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, the natural pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour. It is a powerful antioxidant linked to lowered risk of prostate cancer as well as other forms of cancer and heart disease. The best way to get your lycopene is through tomatoes in their processed form -- tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, tomato soup and even ketchup. Lycopene is in the skin of the tomato, so if you're making your own sauce, be sure to leave the skin on. In addition, lycopene is soluble in fat, so eating tomato sauce with some olive oil gives the best benefits.
There's so much you can do with tomatoes: Freeze them, can them, or make your own tomato sauce. Did you know that you should not refrigerate tomatoes? Cold temperatures interfere with the ripening process and take away flavour.
APPLES: I love all the fall apples. Nothing is quite as delicious as the crisp bite into an Ontario Macintosh apple. And, nowadays there are so many varieties to choose from. Every time I walk by a fruit and vegetable market, I try something different. Besides their delicious taste, they're a rich source of pectin, a soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol and also helps to prevent constipation. In addition, when you eat an apple, you are eating a low-fat food that is also associated with heart health. Apples are also rich in flavonoids, naturally occurring plant compounds linked to lowered risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. 0Quercetin, an important flavonoid found in apples, may help reduce symptoms associated with respiratory ailments. Glutathione, another antioxidant found in apples, is thought to have anti-cancer actions as well as helping to boost the immune system. Apples have been called nature's toothbrush because they stimulate gums, increase saliva flow and reduce the build-up of cavity-causing bacteria. This versatile fruit is also a source of vitamin C and potassium.
PEACHES: A basket of fresh peaches doesn't last long at my house. Nutritious and versatile, ripe, juicy peaches are great fresh, added to fruit salads, made into salsa, chutney, jams or jellies. They can also be baked, grilled, broiled, or poached to create pies, cobblers, and other desserts. Fresh peaches are a low-calorie source of beta-carotene fruit and some vitamin C. They contain fibre, especially pectin.
Peaches do not increase in sweetness after picking, so when choosing fruits avoid those that are rock hard. A peach should feel heavy, indicating that it is juicy, and it should have a sweet, aromatic peachy odour. The skin should be smooth with a creamy or yellow background color. Avoid any peaches that are bruised or have the slightest hint of green in the background. Buy peaches perfectly ripe and they can keep a day or two at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. If you buy a basket, take the peaches out and store them in a single layer. Ripe peaches last up to a week, uncovered, in the fridge.
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