I just finished up a few days of the stomach flu - the kind that empties you out both ways, sixteen times in a 24 hour period, and leaves you lying, dehydrated, under the bed. I even broke my 6 year record of no sick days at work and stayed home for a couple of days (drat! have to start all over again now). Nobody wants to be near someone who is shedding viruses that will cause others to empty themselves 16 times in a... Well, you get the point.
I'm on the road to recovery, and taking it easy with my food choices until I know my tummy is fully ready to handle digestive challenges. Strangely enough, one of the things on my easy to eat list is tomatoes.
I didn't realise how weird it is that I think of tomatoes as a soothing food until my first pregnancy. A whole bunch of us got pregnant at the same time at my work, and we'd share stories of horror and joy at coffee break time. Lots of us had morning sickness, so a favourite topic was: what can I eat without barfing at work? Nobody else liked my first choice: a can of V8 juice and a cup of cottage cheese. Come on, even people who aren't in the first trimester of pregnancy may be induced to vomiting by that combination! Me? I think it's a comfort food. Something about tomatoes - raw or cooked, chunky or juiced, just makes my tummy purr, especially when it has been growling and barking.
So one of my first meals after this bout with the gastrointestinal flu was one of my all time quick favourites, sick or well:
Tomato Soup with Spinach and Feta
Take one can of Campbell's Tomato Soup. Put it into a bowl for the microwave or a pot for the stove. Add about half a can of water (more if you like your soup more thin). Stir in some chopped spinach (frozen or fresh) and heat. Serve with a sprinkle of feta cheese.
I don't know, I guess the saltiness and tanginess restore something that I feel is lost when I am ill. I think this is my number one comfort food.
Another tomato favourite of mine is fresch bruschetta:
1-4 ripe tomatoes (depending how much bruschetta you need, and how big the tomatoes are)
chopped red onion
chopped bell pepper - yellow or orange is best for colour contrast
baguette, or whatever other bread you have
parmesan cheese if you like
Cut the tomato into slices and squish out the liquid and seeds into the sink, leaving the meaty parts for the bruschetta. Chop this up. Add the onion and bell pepper, and the cilantro, either chopped or whole leaves. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice. This can all sit for a few minutes, especially if your veggies are cold from the fridge (it's better to store the tomatoes outside of the fridge, by the way), until it comes to room temperature, for better flavour.
In the meantime, toast up the bread and swizzle some pressed or minced garlic into your olive oil. Drizzle this over the warm toast and top it immediately with dollops of the tomato mixture, then garnish with cheese if you like. This makes a very yummy breakfast, even if you are not pregnant. It is also acceptable as an appetizer at a party, or a light lunch, alongside a yummy salad or soup.
Finally, a "make the most of tomatoes" green salad:
Tomato and Baby Bocconcini Bowl
Use your favourite dark and tender greens (salad mix works fine for this) and good cherry or grape tomatoes. Slice them in half if they're too big. Toss in some baby bocconcini balls and dress with a shaken up mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Eat immediately. Say bocconcini 4 times and you are entitled to more salad.
Did you ever get a cherry tomato stuck in your mouth and you couldn't get your teeth into it, so you had to take it out of your mouth and start over? This happened to me when I was first dating my husband. We were both teenagers. He took me out to Mother Tuckers' Restaurant, where they had a huge salad bar, which was great because I wasn't eating meat at the time. I popped a tomato into my mouth and realised I was hooped. He laughed when I finally spit it out and started over. And he still married me some time later. The only worse thing to do with an insurmountable cherry tomato is to chomp hard on it and squirt your date with tomato juice and seeds. But he still probably would have married me, even if I had done that.
This summer, that husband of mine is planting a veggie garden in the back yard. He doesn't like tomatoes (but I married him anyway). He will grow tomatoes for me. I will make bruschetta and salad with home-made tomatoes this summer, and I might even squirt tomato juice at him, just to see how much he loves me still.
question: do you say tomato?
mompoet - enjoy your food whatever stage of life and love you are living today