I have a really tasty recipe for you today. I made these roasted tomato toasts for lunch over the weekend, and they were so good, I decided I needed to share the recipe with you all. These make a great, simple lunch (I enjoyed mine with a nice green salad with lots of veggies) and if you increase the recipe to serve more people, I could see these as an awesome appetizer.
We had such beautiful weather over the weekend! 80 degrees and sunny. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s only April. Unbelievable! Just two weeks ago winter decided to come back with a vengeance, now it’s suddenly summer. Other than cooking and eating, we spent every minute of daylight outdoors. We actually pulled out my daughter’s little wading pool yesterday, and enjoyed an all-afternoon pool party. All of this time in the sun meant pulling out the sun block, and it got me thinking about how what we eat effects our skin.
I’ve talked before about how a plant-based diet has changed my skin entirely, for the better, and how I finally cleared my adult acne. What I’ve never discussed before is how much better my skin reacts to being in the sun. I’ve noticed I don’t burn as easily, and even though I try to stay in the shade and keep my skin protected with mineral sun blocks as much as possible, I do find that my face for example will get lightly tan now instead of just pink. Also, I used to notice that being in the sun for any amount of time would bring out melasma type brownish spots on my face, especially on my forehead, around my eyes and on my upper lip. Those marks seemed to get less and less as I changed to a plant-based diet. Also, I would find at times in the past, that my skin, especially on my arms, would itch excessively if I spent time out in the sun.
There are many explanations for these changes, but the biggest reason I believe that my skin reacts better to sunlight exposure, is that I’m eating lots more fruits, vegetables, and other naturally protective plant foods. All plant foods provide nutrients that are beneficial to skin, including antioxidants, but red and yellow vegetables have some of the highest concentrations of skin protecting nutrients. Even dark chocolate is said to have sun protective properties. One of the best foods for protecting the skin is tomatoes, and this is thanks to it’s lycopene content. In this case, cooked is better than raw, as cooking tomatoes increases our body’s ability to assimilate lycopene. Tomato paste has been studied for it’s ability to help boost your skin’s ability to protect itself (given it’s high concentration of cooked tomatoes, and thus, bioavailable lycopene). Pizza for skin protection? It sounds crazy, but enjoying a healthy vegetable-loaded pizza with tomato paste-based sauce (like my easy 5 minute pizza sauce) and other dishes with tomato sauce on a regular basis might just keep your skin looking younger, give some protection against UV rays and sunburn, as well as prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Now this doesn’t mean you can load up on tomatoes and tomato sauce at lunch and then spend all day in direct sunlight without getting burnt; skin protection is still extremely important (staying in the shade when possible, covering up, and using mineral-based sunscreen). Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and especially including cooked tomatoes in your diet, is a great way to help prevent premature skin aging, and give your skin an extra boost, especially during the warm spring and summer months when we’re spending lots of time outdoors. On that same note, avoiding certain foods may help protect your skin as well. While plant foods contain antioxidants, which are skin (and health) protective, foods like refined sugar, animal foods, and processed/packaged foods are inflammatory, and this is not only damaging to our health, but the appearance of our skin over time as well.
As the weather warms up, the availability of fresh, ripe tomatoes will happily increase. I start getting excited in late spring and early summer, because tomatoes from the grocery store start tasting like, well, tomatoes! I actually was inspired to cook my grape tomatoes over the weekend because they didn’t taste all that great raw. I should’ve learned by now that buying tomatoes this early usually leads to disappointment. Keep this recipe on hand though for the upcoming weeks and months, or tucked away for when you get a box of grape or cherry tomatoes without much flavor, this recipe will make them delicious!
Roasted Garlic and Tomato Toasts with Vegan Mozzarella and Spinach
- 1 – 2 cups of organic cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1 -2 tsp of olive oil
- sliced bread (I used seeded sourdough, but any bread will work)
- handful of baby spinach leaves
- block or shredded vegan mozzarella (like Follow Your Heart brand, or make your own)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 C. Add grape tomatoes and garlic to a rimmed cooking pan and drizzle with olive oil, making sure everything is lightly coated.
- Roast for about 20 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring around the tomatoes after about 10 minutes. When they are soft and juicy with a few charred spots, remove them from the oven. Carefully smush them down – Carefully! Hot tomato juice may squirt out!
- Turn your oven to broil. Arrange your bread slices on another baking sheet and add a layer of vegan cheese. Place under the broiler and cook for about 5 minutes, or until melty and golden. Take out and arrange a few leaves of spinach and a layer of roasted tomatoes. You can eat it right away or place this under the broiler for a minute or two to re-warm the tomatoes and wilt the spinach.
Dietary Factors in the Prevention in the Prevention and Treatment of Nonmelanoma skin cancer and Melanoma http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12472495