Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Tomato Rarebit Recipe
A Good Source of Lycopene

We all know the nutritional benefits of tomatoes. Tomatoes are a great source antioxidant vitamins A & C, various minerals including potassium and iron, and are a particularly good source of the powerful antioxidant lycopene which is responsible for the red coloring in tomatoes and other fruits such as guava, pink grapefruit, etc.

According to Lycopene is a carotenoid, and is present in human serum, liver, adrenal glands, lungs, prostate, colon, and skin at higher levels than other carotenoids. Lycopene has been found to possess antioxidant and antiproliferative properties in animal and in vitro studies, although activity in humans remains controversial.

What this means is that not only is lycopene a powerful antioxidant which can reduce the cell and DNA damaging affects of free radicals, but that it possesses antiproliferative properties which can help prevent the spread of cancer cells especially in the breast, uterus, colon, lungs and prostate. The Mayo Clinic website also lists a number of conditions where lycopene can be helpful. These conditions include: age related macular degeneration, exercise induced asthma, atherosclerosis and high cholesterol, sun protection, and the prevention of certain cancers including those of the prostate, cervix, colon, lungs, and breast.

While fresh tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, and lycopene is available as a supplement, some consider cooked tomatoes such as that found in ketchup, tomato sauce and tomato paste the best source. Whoever knew that ketchup could be so good for you?

Simple Tomato Rarebit Recipe

Here is a very simple but tasty recipe that has been in my father’s family for many years and is a good source of vitamins A, C, K and lycopene.

Ingredients: 1 can condensed tomato soup, 2 – 3 slices of American cheese cut up into small pieces, and 4 – 6 slices of bread.

Directions: In a small saucepan combine the soup and cut up pieces of American cheese. Use at least 2 slices of American cheese per can of soup. If you prefer a more mellow and less acidy taste, as I do, use 3 slices of cheese per can of soup. Heat on medium stirring constantly until all of the cheese is melted. Serve over lightly toasted bread or plain bread. This makes a hearty lunch on a cold Winter day. Serves 2. Just double the recipe to serve more people. To make a fancier rarebit, just add bacon bits to garnish or stewed or sun-dried tomatoes. This simple version tastes just fine, especially if you use a good quality condensed tomato soup.

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Happy and healthy eating!


Aparna said...

I like using tomatoes in salads. Need to try out your recipe too.

Helene said...

Thanks for your comment, Aparna. I had some tomato rarebit the next day after posting this. I wanted all of those healthy antioxidants.

RJ said...

I think you just helped me decide what's for lunch!

I love tomatoes.. tomato soup, marinara sauce, salsa; I'll even eat a tomato like an apple!

The problem, I have, with tomatoes is the acidity and the severe acid reflux it causes me. My doctor keeps telling me to avoid tomatoes... but what do doctors know?!!

Helene said...

Hi RJ - My mother used to have a problem with tomatoes, but it was mostly overcooked sauces. I think that overcooking seems to separate the oils and the acids and makes it harsher on the stomach.

Sliced uncooked tomatoes are probably the safest if you have a sensitive stomach. Also, adding 3 slices of American cheese to the can of tomato soup, definitely makes it milder.

I was just foraging in the freezer for something to make for dinner, and then I decided to make some tomato rarebit. It's quick, simple, warm on a cold night, and has all of those good tomato nutrients.

Happy eating:-)

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