Veggie Party Tray Season

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I love this!  I picked up this tray from Pier 1 and have been using it as a decorative piece on my coffee table and recently, I looked at it with a new vision.  I started by covering the inside with cute pumpkin cloth napkins to protect the wood detail.  Moving on, I filled two bowls with The Better Chip brand chips from Gordon Food Services(GFS), I have spinach and kale in the red bowl and Jalapeño (Yes, real Jalapeño and they DO kick) in the green bowl, both are whole grain and vegan.  Two types of hummus in the white bowls in the center, roasted red pepper family style from GFS and garlic family style from Costco.  A bowl of guacamole, store-bought from Costco..all three of the containers fit into my one bowl,  and a plate of veggie sushi from my local Kroger.  On the other side a bowl of mixed nuts, a bowl of honey nut clusters (not vegan by all standards), a bowl of olives, and a bowl of dark chocolate covered pretzels.  I filled in with lots of fresh veggies, mushrooms, cauliflower, green cauliflower, orange, yellow and red peppers, and carrots.  The left over holes on one side got filled in with grape tomatoes and the other side was filled in with grapes.  I almost forgot all the Mary’s Gone crackers!  We go through box after box of these over the holidays.  Costco has them in a 20 ounce box with 2 bags of the original flavor, certified vegan. Such a party hit and so much food.  A perfect tray to put out for the holidays!  I served this at home, the tray might be a little hard to take somewhere once you have it filled.  Let this serve as an example of what you can bring when you’re invited to a get together with friends this holiday season.

Tomato Tidbits

Tomatoes, those wonderful antioxidant rich….hum what are they a fruit…a vegetable? Botanically they are classified as berries, but culinarily they are classified as vegetables, so that doesn’t really clear it up.  In 1887 the US imposed a tariff on vegetables,  but not fruits,  causing the tomatoes status to become legally important.  The Supreme Court stepped up in 1893 and decided that the tomato was a vegetable, based on its use in dinner versus dessert.  Tomatoes are not the only food source with this ambiguity, bell peppers, cucumbers, green beans, eggplants, and squash are also botanically berries and culinarily vegetables.

Tomatoes contain approximately 95% water and it has been written that they are good for heart disease, cancer prevention and skin health.  I’m all over that skin health part, I have read that antioxidant foods are great for helping to keep our skin from oxidizing.  Aging and disease have been thought of as the oxidation of the body, so basically we are rusting.   Those brown age spots, are oxidized fat under the skin!  Yes, I know yuck…so if eating more tomatoes might help me keep those off the backs of my hands, I’m eating them.  The antioxidant in tomatoes is called lycopene and is most concentrated in the tomato peel.  So no more peeling those tomatoes, the skin is the best part!

Tomatoes even have their own festival, it appears to have started in a small town in Spain.  La Tomatina, as the festival is called, started in 1945 and today one can only participate if you have a pre-paid ticket. Ticket holders come together and throw tomatoes at each other for approximately one hour.  As I was thinking how incredibly messy and sticky this must be, I read on about the citric acid in all those tomatoes and how when they use fire hoses to clean the town square, it ends up cleaner than before the tomatoes.  If you are so inclined to travel and throw tomatoes at your friends, the next festival is planned  for August 28, 2019, remember you need a pre-paid ticket to participate.

Did you know that tomatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator?  Did you know it even says do not refrigerate right on the front of the package of cherry tomatoes?  When I first read this I immediately got up from my computer ran to my refrigerator and whipped out my pack of cherry tomatoes.  You guessed it, right there at the bottom it clearly says “do not refrigerate”.  I included some photos with my post, because yes, I too had a hard time believing I had been storing them wrong all these years.  So what happens when you refrigerate them?  When they get cold, they become tasteless, it’s as simple as that.  I always enjoyed picking them fresh off the vine as a kid and eating them standing right there in the garden while they were still warm from the sun.  As an adult, they just never tasted the same, and now I know why!