Widely used to prepare savoury, sweet, spicy and tangy dishes, tomatoes are a juicy, tasty and healthy vegetable. So, if you are wondering how important a tomato is in a kid's diet, you should know that 100 grams of tomatoes can provide 20 calories energy, 0.9 gm protein, 3.6 gm carbohydrates, 0.2 gm fat, 20 mg phosphorus, 0.64 mg iron, 48 mg calcium, 12.9 mg sodium, 146 mg potassium, and 1.2 gm fibre. These lush red veggies are 95% water as well and hence hydrating.
Moreover, tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, which contributes to good skin health and reduced risk of heart ailments and cancers. So, tomatoes do provide a significant antioxidant boost in children. And remember, the redder the tomatoes, the higher will be the lycopene content.
More benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes also contain adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K. They have some carbohydrate and also contain simple sugars like fructose and glucose.
It might also help to know that tomatoes are rich in insoluble fibre such as hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin. The red colour of a tomato is due to the presence of chlorophyll and carotenoids. When tomatoes start ripening, the green pigment (chlorophyll) starts to degrade, and integration of red colour (carotenoids) starts occurring.
Some fun facts for kids
So, you now know the many reasons why tomatoes are important for toddlers. You can introduce it in your child’s diet as a part of salads, burgers, pizza toppings, pasta base, vegetable gravies, soups, ketchup and more.
Apart from that, here are a few fun facts about tomatoes that your children will find interesting. And this will encourage them to eat this veggie daily.
- Tomatoes originated in the South American Andes, near the area of "modern-day Peru", and were used as food by the Aztecs in Southern Mexico.
- Though tomatoes are botanically a fruit, they are prepared and eaten as a vegetable. They contain seeds and grow on a flowering plant.
- In New Jersey, tomatoes are the vegetable of the state. They are the legal state fruit of Ohio and tomato juice is a legal beverage here.
- Tomatoes are grown in greenhouses or glasshouses, mainly in cold climates or environments.
- The largest producer of tomatoes is China. The second and third largest producers are The United States and India.
- All the varieties of tomatoes are red, although other colours can be grown, such as green, yellow, orange, pink, black, brown, white, and purple.
- Around the world, there are approximately 7500 varieties of tomatoes grown.
- Different kinds of tomatoes are available today. Sliced tomatoes are used for processing and fresh consumption. Tomatoes resembling the shape of a large strawberry are also found. For tomato sauces and pastes, elongated or plum tomatoes are used. Cherry tomatoes, which are round and usually sweet, are majorly consumed whole, in salads. Campari tomatoes come in small to medium sizes and can be sweet and juicy.
- There are various ways in which tomatoes can be consumed, such as raw, like a fruit, as a base in many dishes, in sauces, ketchup, and salsa, and as an ingredient in soups and stews.
- Tomatoes are essential for Mediterranean cuisines and widely used in pastas and pizzas.
- Every year, the small Spanish town of Bunol organises "La Tomatina", a famous tomato-based fight. This festival sees almost 40,000 individuals throwing 1, 50, 000 tomatoes at each other.
- According to the Guinness World Record, the heaviest tomato grown was around 3.51 kg. This tomato was grown in Oklahoma, USA, by G. Graham in 1986.
Easy tomato recipe for your child - Basil tomato Soup
- Olive Oil
- Garlic (chopped)
- Onions (finely chopped)
- Carrots (finely chopped)
- Canned tin tomatoes
- Tomatoes (finely chopped)
- Salt and pepper
- Basil leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon zest
Method of preparation
- Take a pan and heat it for a short while. Then add olive oil, garlic, carrots, onions, and chopped celery.
- On a low flame, let it all cook for 10-12 minutes.
- To the above, add tinned and chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper.
- Let all the vegetables cook for another 12-15 minutes. Then, turn off the heat.
- Blend all the vegetables to make a thick soup.
- For masala, add basil leaves, extra virgin oil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest to a pestle. Pound the entire mixture using a mortar.
- Garnish the soup with the prepared masala and serve it hot to the kids. It can also be served with breadsticks.
So, tomatoes, as you can see, are not only hydrating, but also rich in calcium, potassium and dietary fibre. And incorporating them in a variety of dishes is easy too. So, power up your child’s meals with tomatoes and ensure smooth digestion, besides reducing the risk of cancers.