Too many tomatoes? Try gazpacho! As summer nears its end and you have a garden, you may find yourself blessed with an abundance of tomatoes and wonder what to do with them. There’s only so much spaghetti sauce you can make. If you’ve got a food processor, fresh tomatoes, and you don’t feel like eating hot food since it’s still warm out, give gazpacho a try… especially if you like bloody marys! Gazpacho works well as a side dish with your favorite protein.
You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy gazpacho, a flavorful tomato soup prepared and served cold. It’s a recipe traditionally from Spain. This particular recipe is simple enough to be flavorful, yet it’s flexible and easy to adjust to your taste. Ripe tomatoes are key. If you don’t have a garden, buy local tomatoes if possible, rather from the grocery store, as they’ll have a greater chance of being ripe. Your tomatoes should have that summery garden aroma—if they don’t, they’ll impart less flavor to your gazpacho (or any recipe.) Store your tomatoes at room temperature; don’t refrigerate. Remember: it’s always best to start with less salt, pepper, and garlic, and then add more as you need after you taste it, than to prepare a recipe with too much.
Ingredients: [Makes 4 large servings]
· 3 fresh, ripe beefsteak tomatoes
· 2 Roma tomatoes
· 1 small sweet onion – peeled
· 2 green bell peppers – seeds removed
· 1 English cucumber
· 2 tsp fresh garlic – minced
· 24 oz. tomato juice/strained tomatoes (no salt added)
· 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
· 1 Tbsp olive oil
· 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
· 1 tsp ground sea salt crystals
· ½ tsp ground black pepper
· ½ tsp ground cumin
Wash the vegetables (tomatoes and cucumbers are botanical fruits that are included under the umbrella term, “vegetable.”) Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers and onion. Mince the garlic but don’t make it too fine. Have an extra clove or two handy in case you’d like to add more to taste afterwards. Pulse each vegetable separately in the food processor in order to get each of them into an equal consistency, then combine in a large bowl. (Check out the photo of the finished gazpacho to see a sample consistency. I prefer mind a little chunky as opposed to liquefied.) Add the other ingredients to the bowl, stir well, and adjust the salt, pepper, garlic, and even the oil and vinegar to taste. Garnish with sliced cucumber, cilantro, basil, parsley—whatever you feel like! If you eat dairy you may like a bit of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt mixed in.
Once prepared, cover and store it in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. Eat it prepared fresh, but know that as an added bonus, the flavors will develop more the next couple days. When serving it after refrigeration, you may want to place the gazpacho in [covered] serving bowls for about 30 min. to shake a little of the cold off—but don’t heat it up as it’s meant to be cold in order to be refreshing on a warm summer or early fall day.
Recipe time: 20-30 min.? Some gazpacho recipes say they take 10 min. to make. I take my time when preparing food, especially when working with raw foods and ready-to-eat foods that are uncooked. I wash my hands often. Gazpacho’s ingredients were traditionally hand-chopped, which is labor-intensive. I usually prefer recipes that don’t require a food processor, as many can’t afford one. (Mine was a gift years ago when a kind friend saw how much I loved being in the kitchen.) Currently I have an injury that affects my dominant hand, arm, and shoulder, so recipes that rely on a food processor have an extra appeal on certain days, although sometimes I even struggle with getting the parts of the food processor to align.
Cherries have a number of health benefits. You probably guessed they contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but did you know they also contain the hormone melatonin which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle? Cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes, and cherries are lower than other fruits on the glycemic index, meaning they are less likely to cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Now, on to the smoothie recipe!
· 1.25 cups fresh sweet red cherries, pitted (organic if possible)
· 1/2 cup 100% red tart cherry juice (organic if possible)
· 1/3 cup organic vanilla bean nonfat Greek yogurt
· 1/2 tsp. organic Ceylon ground cinnamon
· 1 tsp. organic ground chia seed or chia seed
· Filtered water and 2-4 cubes of ice, as desired, to adjust consistency
Combine all ingredients except water in a blender or mixer. Blend for 20-30 seconds. Pour into a glass and enjoy. If too thick, add a few tablespoons of filtered water and re-blend for 5 seconds. Makes approx. one pint (16 oz.) of smoothie.
Examples of substitutions:
Frozen pitted cherries can be substituted for fresh cherries. The ground cinnamon does not have to be Ceylon cinnamon, although Ceylon cinnamon in particular is used to spice up desserts and sweet beverages. If you’ve not had Ceylon cinnamon in your spice cabinet, now might be a good time to try it! (Be sure to protect your cinnamon from light and moisture in an airtight container.) A non-dairy yogurt alternative can be substituted for those who don’t eat dairy, such as Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Cashew Cultured Yogurt Alternative. (By the way, maraschino cherries are highly processed and stored in a brine of sugar, FD&C red food dye and other chemicals that make them a Frankenfood—do not substitute these in this recipe.)
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