Tomatoes are one of those foods I hardly ever tire of, and summer is my absolute favorite time to enjoy them liberally. Tomatoes aren’t just tasty though — they’re also incredibly healthy for you. With only 20 calories per medium-sized fruit, very little sugar, and a large amount of potassium, lycopene, and Vitamin C, tomatoes are a definite fruit to put on your grocery list or to try to grow right at home.

Luckily, I live in the South, where home-grown tomatoes are plentiful all summer long, not to mention they’re incredibly inexpensive to grow. They’re a staple in most all my meals year round, from hearty fall and winter soups or stews to summer salads and salsas. Tomatoes aren’t just great for salads and soup though. Try using them a bit more creatively so you can enjoy them this summer when they taste their absolute best!

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1. Faux Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a common popular dish everywhere in the South, but you can enjoy them no matter where you live. You can cook a more traditional recipe or try my modification trick, which is to use coconut flour and flax in place of breadcrumbs when cooking them. I also “faux fry” mine and actually bake them instead to make them more heart-healthy. Don’t worry too much if you can’t find or don’t like the green varieties either –  red tomatoes work just fine too!

2. Roasted Tomatoes

Roasting tomatoes is an awesome way to enjoy their sweet, rich flavor. There’s nothing like chilled roasted tomatoes served over a monstrous salad or mixed into a homemade pasta sauce. The flavor is incomparable to anything you’ve ever had. But don’t take my word for it, try these Cheesy Roasted Tomatoes or these Miso Roasted Tomatoes with Spiralized Carrot Noodles and let me know what you think!

3. On a Sandwich

Tomatoes are awesome on sandwiches, as you probably already know, but have you ever had it on a raw sandwich? There’s absolutely nothing like it, to say the least. Try this Raw Vegan Tomato Cucumber Sandwich and enjoy tomatoes in a new, hearty way. Sure, it’s not as easy as buying a loaf of bread, but it sure is healthier! Or, if you need a bit more protein and don’t have time to make raw bread, try this delicious Raw Tempeh Tomato Herb Sandwich or this Cracked Sandwich with Hummus, Avocado, and Sun-dried Tomato.

4. To Make a Raw Sauce

Dried tomatoes and regular tomatoes both make awesome raw, vegan sauces. The best part is, they take minutes to make and you can use them for a variety of recipes. A nice, tomato-based sauce is a great way to add a large amount of flavor to any ordinary dish. You can even use the sauce on a sandwich, on pizza, or layer it over some raw zucchini noodles for a perfectly light yet satisfying summer meal. Feel free to use them in a cooked sauce too, such as this amazing Tomato Fennel Sauce.

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5. To Make a Summer Soup

Tomatoes make a wonderful addition to fall and winter soups, but don’t forget about raw soups in the summer. I love making these in my blender because they’re fast, easy, and so filling yet light at the same time. This Raw Tomato Red Pepper Soup is one of the best you’ll ever have and it’s the perfect way to enjoy two of nature’s healthiest fruits in one summery meal.

6. Tacos

Tacos offer the perfect alternative to a sandwich when you want to get in plenty of flavorful ingredients in a quick, easy meal. They’re also the perfect way to use summer fruits like tomatoes. Pack your tacos out with veggies and lots of flavor, like these Spicy Zucchini and Tomato Tacos and turn ordinary tacos into something extra special!

7. Summer Pizza

What makes ordinary pizza different from summer pizza? A lighter feel, a fresh flavor, and no greasy, cheesy crust to weigh you down – that’s what! Oh, and don’t forget the delicious onion, olives, zucchini and fresh tomato sauce of course. Try this flavor-packed Fresh Summer Vegan Pesto Pizza when your next craving hits or you’re just looking for a healthier take on the original. Or if you’re into raw foods, this raw pizza is a must-make as well.

Never underestimate a seemingly ordinary fruit like tomatoes. Their flavor can turn a boring meal into a delicious, satisfying “chow down” meal in no time. What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

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Image source: liz west/Flickr

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