Any tomato lovers out there? I have to admit that I’m no tomato connoisseur but I think we all can agree that tomatoes with that perfect balance of acidity and sweetness can put smiles on our faces.
In addition to being rich in vitamins, tomatoes also have beneficial phytonutrients. Lycopene and beta-carotene are phytonutrients found in many vegetables; they’re responsible for the color of tomatoes. Lycopene is a red pigment found in other red foods like red bell peppers, red cabbage and watermelon; it has potential antioxidant and anticancer properties. Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment that our bodies use to make vitamin A.
In a perfect world, every time we ate tomatoes, they’d be freshly picked; from the plant straight to our plates. However, sometimes that’s not possible and hence we turn to canned tomatoes. In this post I’m not going to get into a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of canned goods. I do, however, want to highlight a couple things that you should keep in mind when selecting processed tomatoes.
LOOK FOR “BPA-FREE”
It’s scary stuff…maybe…Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It is used to make many everyday products like plastic containers, plastic water bottles and to line the inside of canned goods. BPA is under scrutiny because it may be linked to cancer and because it possibly affects fetuses and newborns. However, no absolute decision about the safety of BPA has been made. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a four-year review of over 300 scientific studies and reported that there was not enough information to “prompt a revision of FDA’s safety assessment of BPA in food packaging at this time”. To date, the FDA continues to review information and studies on BPA. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is also supporting various initiatives and research efforts related to BPA.
The good news is that more manufacturers are producing BPA-free goods. Yay! Check out these BPA-free meal prep containers. You can also find processed tomatoes in glass jars; there’s no BPA in glass.
SODIUM (SALT) CONTENT
I’ve said this a million times and will say it a million times more: always read the nutrition facts label and ingredients list of anything you buy. Many canned or bottled tomatoes have some salt added. Per serving, this additional sodium can account for 4 % to 13% of your daily allowance. When possible, purchase the “no salt added” or low-sodium varieties of canned or bottled tomatoes.
OK, let’s get cooking. This recipe is pretty straightforward and results in a rich flavorful sauce. You can also try using an Instant Pot or a slow cooker after browning the chicken and vegetables. However, if you do try a slow cooker method, you should reduce the amount of liquid you add to the slow cooker. Try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Prep Time: 15 minutes . Cook Time: 60 minutes . Yield: Serves 8
8 Chicken Legs, skin removed
10 Oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1 28-Oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Cups Yellow Onions, chopped
1 Cup Fresh Basil, coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup Cooking Wine (optional)
4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, minced
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1. Season chicken with Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper and smoked paprika. Set aside and marinate for at least 30 minutes if time permits.
2. In a large non-stick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook on each side for 5 minutes until medium brown. Remove chicken from skillet.
3. In the same skillet, cook onions and garlic for 5 to 8 minutes until onions are translucent. Remove onions and garlic, then cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes until golden.
4. Return browned chicken, onions and garlic to skillet with mushrooms. Stir in tomatoes, bell peppers, bay leaf, cooking wine and rosemary. When pan begins to bubble, reduce to a low simmer; cook for 45 to 60 minutes until sauce reaches desired thickness. Stir in fresh basil.
5. Serve warm with favorite noodles or zucchini noodles.