Most of us are likely finding July 4th and its fireworks not to be the usual celebration this year, for an absolute boatload of reasons…none of which I am going to list :). Instead, I am going to focus on red, white and blue in a most patriotic and nutritional way that feels right - through food 🍓🍇.

RED.

Tomatoes are usually the first vegetable that comes to mind when thinking of the color red. Or are they a fruit? Well settle down, as everyone is correct — a tomato is both a fruit and a vegetable. Sort of. They are botanically defined as fruits because they form from a flower and contain seeds. Fruits assist with the plant’s reproduction process from the seeds of which they bear. Yet, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1893 that the tomato should be classified as a vegetable on the basis of its culinary applications (flavor and recipe usage). Vegetables have the much less sexy term of “auxiliary,” as they are the roots, stems and leaves of a plant, known to be more bitter versus sweet.

As ridiculous as this dilemma sounds, I go with vegetable for this very reason. A tomato is naturally very low in sugar and calories (unlike fruit), and high in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. From salads, sauces, cold soups, flatbreads, tomatoes are a juicy, delicious way to get your red on this holiday — and all summer long.

Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

SUMMER GAZPACHO
A chilled soup for a sweltering summer day. One of the best ways to appreciate juicy, sweet tomatoes, all summer long.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 red onion, peeled
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded, cut into quarters
1 medium green bell pepper, cored
2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes, halved and cored
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Options: add a protein — a few grilled shrimp or scallops on top; add a touch of carb — a handful of croutons or slice of fresh, whole grain bread; add some fresh herbs like cilantro or thyme

PREPARATION
Combine all ingredients, except one quarter of cucumber, together in a blender or food processor. Puree for 1 minute, or until the soup reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Chill in refrigerator in a sealed container for 3 to 4 hours. Chop leftover quarter of cucumber into small chunks. Garnish with chopped cucumber and any other desires. Makes 4–6 servings.

WHITE.

The highest amount of protein in cheese actually comes from Parmesan cheese, at almost 11 grams of protein per ounce. Cheese is also an excellent source of calcium and potassium. All good things have their baggage as well. Cheese contains about 5–8 grams of fat per ounce, with 3–5 grams of it being the saturated, cholesterol producing fat. Moderation is always key.

Photo by Dexter McQueen on Unsplash

WHITE PIZZA…WITH HERBS
Take the usual white pizza to the next level with our last conversation piece — fresh herbs. The variety is endless, and usually more green than white in the end, but tasty to the eyes and taste buds. Poppy seeds add a sweet “pop” to the usual pizza.

INGREDIENTS
1 whole wheat pita bread, flat bread, or fresh dough (plus 2 tablespoons flour)
3–4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mixed, chopped herbs: chervil, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, basil, chives, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pizza tile or baking sheet in oven. If using fresh dough, sprinkle flour on surface and press out pizza dough into a 12-inch circle. While oven is preheating, place small sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil and garlic and sauté for about 4–5 minutes, or until garlic is slightly browned. Place the pizza dough (or pita bread or flat bread) on the heat tile or baking sheet. Spread garlic and olive oil over the surface and top with mozzarella, herbs and poppy seeds. Bake fresh dough for 15 minutes, pita or flatbread for 8 minutes, or until pizza is golden on the edges and crisp underneath. Makes 4–6 servings.

AND THE BLUES.

Since 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has recognized July as National Blueberry Month — so let’s celebrate!

Photo by Sara Cervera on Unsplash

BLUEBERRY SALSA
A different take on our blue fruit, but the fresh zing will brighten your mood and your baked chips ;). Not to mention, blueberries are one of few fruits native to North America, if you are feeling the patriotism…

INGREDIENTS
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 avocado, chopped
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with whole-grain pita or tortilla chips, or place on top of grilled chicken, meat or fish. Makes 10–12 appetizer servings.

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul. ~ Moshe Dayan

For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amysmargulies@gmail.com

A nutrition expert and middle child, I am writing to promote health and wellbeing, recipes and tips in a relatable, slightly rebellious fashion.