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Basic Tomato sauce

Serves 6


Tomatoes are rich in nutrients. Tomatoes contain large amounts of vitamin C, providing 40 percent of the daily value (DV). They also contain 15 percent DV of vitamin A, 8 percent DV of potassium, and 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron for women and 10 percent RDA for men. Tomatoes are especially rich with a carotenoid antioxidant called lycopene which is needed to neutralize free radicals that can damage cells in the body and protect the body against cancer and other diseases. Of all carotenoids, lycopene is the most efficient scavenger of oxygen radicals. It is thought to be present in the form of crystals associated with the membrane structures in tomato cells and gives tomatoes their characteristic red colour.
Cooking tomatoes aids in the bioavailability of lycopene as several studies have demonstrated that lycopene bioavailability from tomato paste that was both homogenized and heat-treated was higher than from fresh tomatoes and this bioavailability was due to the cooking effect. No official recommendation for lycopene consumption exists.
Lycopene and other carotenoid antioxidants have been implicated in the prevention of cancer but a lot of these studies are inconsistent. For instance, in 1989 a large cohort study of 14,000 seventh‑day Adventist men who eat a vegetarian diet found that high consumption of tomato products in addition to other foods (beans, lentils, peas, raisins, dates and dried fruit) was independently associated with a reduced prostate cancer risk. Epidemiological studies have also linked higher consumption of tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables with a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Since then several show a reduced risk or a trend towards reduction of prostate cancer risk, particularly with cooked tomatoes. But, as with any scientific research, there have also been more recent studies which contradict this finding.
The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer screening trial cohort and the European Prospective investigation into Cancer and nutrition study found no association between lycopene levels and prostate cancer risk. The men in the PLCO studies were unusual in at least one respect; they averaged eight to nine servings of vegetables and fruits a day. It was concluded that “there was limited credible evidence for a qualified health claim about tomato consumption and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.” Nonetheless, lycopene has also been studied in men with known prostate cancer and most studies found lycopene to be beneficial to these patients.
The fact that cancer cells are known to have alterations in multiple cellular signaling pathways and because of the complexities in the communication between multiple signaling networks, the treatment and the cure for most human malignancies is still an open question. Perhaps, this is the reason why specific inhibitors that target only one pathway have been typically failed in cancer treatment. The discrepancy in most of the studies above may be that lycopene is indeed a powerful antioxidant but that it has to work in combination with other nutrients to produce a preventative or alleviating effect for cancer.
Lycopene straight from Mother Nature as found in tomatoes in combination with the other nutrients and natural antioxidants in tomatoes in these predefined proportions may be essential for lycopene to be cancer preventative. Also, the combination of other naturally occurring nutrients, like fibre might be required for its preventative activity. Research does suggest a synergy between tomatoes and other vegetables, such as broccoli. In other words, eating combination of natural wholesome foods may be the key to cancer prevention. More on this in “Is Your Food Killing You?”
Garlic contains two main medicinal compounds: allicin and diallyl sulphides, which can help boost the immune system and fight off cancer. Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. There are many different varieties of onion, red, yellow, white, and green, each with their own unique flavour, from very strong to mildly sweet. Depending on which onion you are selecting, you can find onions all year round. The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by the WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions contain a number of sulphides (do not confuse this with sulphites, as found in processed foods) similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural ant clotting agents. Onion were also found to provide some protection against tumour growth as studies have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.
Researchers found that capers help to prevent the oxidation of fat that occurs during cooking and digestion, especially of meats. They also found that components in capers help to regenerate antioxidant vitamin E, making more of it available for use in the body. Both of these things may help reduce the risk for heart disease. Capers also contain isothiocyanates, the same anti-cancer components found in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli sprouts that are capable of interrupting several steps in cancer initiation, and can provide DNA protection. Saffron contains several compounds, including carotenoids and has been used as a diaphoretic, an expectorant, and a sedative. In some parts of Asia, it has been made into a paste and used to treat dry skin. It is also thought to have some aphrodisiac effects. The saffron in the recipe below should be omitted if feeding a pregnant woman because of the risk of spontaneous abortion.
Oregano is rich in antioxidants thymol and rosmarinic acid. Oregano has been shown to have over 42 times the antioxidant activity as apples, 30 times higher than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries for the same weight. As a matter of fact, ounce for ounce oregano is thought to be one of the most antioxidant dense of all foods. It is also rich in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids but as we only ever consume oregano in small amounts, the actual amounts of these nutrients consumed are not significant. Nevertheless, there are still benefits to be derived from this small amount of oregano consumed.
Anchovies are an excellent source of protein, calcium and selenium In terms of vitamin, they're an excellent source of niacin, a B vitamin important for health of the nervous system, skin, and digestive tract. Anchovies are also a fatty fish which makes them an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. As many people are concerned about eating seafood due to the risk of contaminants such as mercury, PCB's, and dioxanes but because anchovies are a small fish with a short life span, they're less likely to accumulate significant levels of mercury or other PCBs. Preserved anchovy fillets are used in this recipe below. When purchasing anchovies preserved in olive oil, ensure that this is in extra virgin olive oil and that there are no added preservatives.
The recipe below is delicious fresh but can be made and frozen prior to use. It can be used as a base for other dishes.
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped finely
8 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. capers (if using bottled, buy the ones preserved in brine without other preservatives if possible)
½ - 1 whole anchovy fillet, in olive oil
1-2 fresh oregano leaves
Couple of strands of dried saffron
 2 tbsp. extra virgin Olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a pan, heat olive oil slightly over a low heat then add chopped onions. Cook gently for about 5-8 min until onions are soft. Add capers, saffron and plum tomatoes. Cook for a further 10 min over medium heat. Finally add garlic and dried oregano.  Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and blend using a hand blender. You may need to add a little bit of boiledwater (not more than ½ cup) to thin the sauce to the consistency you like. Season to taste.