In the summertime, we eat only fresh tomatoes — tiny ones that the kids pick directly from the vines on our backyard. Giant heirlooms from local organic farms. Red ones, orange ones, yellow ones and green ones … Sometimes it’s just plain. Sometimes with a little sprinkle of salt. Sometimes with cheese and vinaigrette.
Yes, we love our tomatoes.
So, when winter rolls around, we aren’t quick to give up our tomatoes. Some years, I put up homemade sauce and paste to use all year. But this year, there was no time. So, canned tomatoes it is.
And as it turns out, there might be some good news about using canned tomatoes. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition more than a decade ago says that the body absorbs two to three times more lycopene from canned tomatoes as they do from raw ones. Why is that good? Well, lycopene is one of those heart-healthy nutrients that is so, so good for you.
Why am I talking about this? Well, ConAgra recently released research finding from a study that examined the findings of other research studies on how fruits and veggies can reduce the risk factors for heart disease and they asked me to share it with you. Here are some of the interesting findings:
- Tomatoes are the most popular source of lycopene in the US, accounting for 85 percent of the lycopene consumed.
- Canned tomatoes might have positive impacts for blood-pressure. Researchers found that in a six-week study, participants with high blood pressure that consumed two servings of canned tomato products daily saw a big decline in their blood pressure.
- Studies suggest that the nutrients found in tomatoes might just have a big impact on blood pressure.
It’s pretty safe to say that if you are concerned about your heart’s health, and most people are, then eating tomatoes sure sounds like a good job.
Heart health is important to me. With two young children, I want to be there for all of their life milestones, and so does my husband. This is a near and dear subject for me.
Also, whenever I think about heart health, I think of my grandfather who underwent open heart surgery. I was 12 or so and it was right before Halloween. I can still remember hearing his options for a replacement valve, and know the one he chose: the pig valve. And I still have, right here in my bedroom, a stethoscope that one of the doctors gave me. That Halloween, I trick or treated dressed as a doctor — a last minute decision. These memories and images – the hospital, the smell, the time of year – stay with you. I don’t want my kids to have memories like that.
Now, let me tell you about these eggs. The eggs are nestled in a quick homemade tomato sauce, and baked until just set. The yolk is supposed to remain runny, so that when you go to take forkfuls you spill the yolk over everything. It’s divine. These Two Cheese Baked Eggs in Tomatoes for Two makes a fabulous breakfast to share (or breakfast for one, if you are starved.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, , minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes, (I used Hunt's Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic)
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, , to taste
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup grated provolone cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12-ounce oven-proof bowl and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and basil and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 5-7 minutes, until thickened (there will still be juice from the tomatoes, but it will be about half of what you started with). Stir in the parmesan after 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, just before removing from the stove.
- Reserve 1/4 cup of the tomato mixture. Pour the remainder into the prepared bowl. Break the eggs and add to the bowl as well, careful not to break the yolks. Spoon the reserved tomatoes over the eggs and then sprinkle with the provolone.
- Bake the eggs and tomatoes for 15-17 minutes, until the egg whites are set, but the yolks remain runny.
Disclosure: Hunt’s/Conagra compensated me for my time writing this post. That didn’t impact the opinions shared here.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.