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Our Blog: July 8, 2024

Tasty Tomatoes

This month we want to talk to you and your family about TOMATOES! These colorful, juicy veggies are packed with vitamin C, potassium, and abundant antioxidants, such as lycopene. When paired with a healthy fat, lycopene is better absorbed by your body. You can do this by adding a drizzle of olive oil or slices of avocado to your tomatoes to boost the health benefits.

Early veggie variety is key to raising an adventurous, healthy eater. Through exposure, we now know kids can learn to LOVE vegetables. We hope you’ll join us in supporting the Veggies Early & Often initiative at home by being a role model through cooking and eating a balanced, plant-forward diet.

Get Creative

Hot or cold. Raw or cooked. Tomatoes can be prepared in many ways and used in endless recipes. Whether they’re the star of the show or a supporting character, tomatoes are quite versatile. If you have a child who is a little hesitant about trying tomatoes, generate interest with these ideas:

  • Read a Book: Try reading the book I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child (or listen via YouTube). Beloved siblings, Charlie and Lola, go on a grand adventure to try new, unfamiliar tastes fueled by big imagination.
  • Plant a Garden: You can grow tomatoes in the ground, in raised beds, or pots! Harvesting your own is a fun way to involve your child and pique their interest.
  • Plan a Taste Test: Make it interactive by doing a taste test of different varieties of tomatoes that have a range of shapes, colors, and sizes. Try grape, cherry, Roma, or beefsteak tomatoes. Talk about what might seem unappealing first. Is it the juice or the slimy seeds? Is it the texture of the flesh inside or the outer skin? Let your child experiment through touch and taste.
    • Cherokee Purple = Slightly sweet and smoky flavor. It’s excellent in bruschetta.
    • Golden Jubilee = Medium-sized and yellow with a slightly sweet flavor and tangy undertone. A great addition to salads and sandwiches.
  • Make a Recipe: Try different ways to prepare tomatoes to see what your child might like without focusing too much on the tomato itself. You may find one that you love! We’ll get you started with some Grow Fit®-approved recipes.


(Serves 4 to 6 adults.)


1 ¼ lbs. fresh tomatoes               
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup fresh basil, chopped         
Salt and pepper, to taste            


  1. Dice fresh tomatoes (discard seeds).
  2. For young assistants: Combine tomatoes, oil, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and let chill for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Serve with a loaf of crusty, sliced bread. Top your toast or English muffin. Toss with plain pasta noodles (hot or cold) and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Roasted Tomatoes

(Serves 4 to 6 adults.)


6 Roma tomatoes, halved                         
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. For young assistants: Toss the tomatoes with olive oil. Season lightly with pepper.
  4. Lay tomatoes out on the baking sheet. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and tops are slightly browned.

Pizza Sauce

(Serves 4 to 6 adults.)


2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
2 tsp. oregano (dry)
½ tsp. rosemary
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
6 basil leaves, large
1 yellow onion, diced
6 oz. tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar       


  1. For young assistants: Place tomatoes in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter until melted. Add the garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and optional red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 minutes, until very fragrant.
  3. Add tomatoes, basil, onion, tomato paste, and sugar. Stir until smooth.
  4. Bring to a simmer for 1 hour or until reduced by half.
  5. Let cool and store in jars in your refrigerator. (Freezes well too!)

Suggestions for Using the Sauce:

- Make homemade pizza with dough, English muffins, or Naan as your base
- Use as a dip for your favorite breadsticks
- Toss with plain ravioli and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
- Turn it into enchilada sauce by adding cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder


These recipes were designed to help kids ages 3 and up learn to eat and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables. They are veggie-forward and approved by the Partnership for a Healthier America to meet the Veggies Early & Often guidelines. Approved 5/7/2024.


About the Author

Nicole Spain, MS, RDN

Childhood nutrition has been Nicole’s passion for more than 20 years. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Illinois University. During her career with Learning Care Group (LCG), Nicole has assisted with developing and implementing the company’s proprietary Grow Fit program. Through her curated menus, the healthy lifestyle initiative positively impacts approximately 100,000 children daily in LCG’s 1,050+ schools. She aided in the rollout of the Veggies Early & Often campaign in 2021 and helped LCG be recognized as the 2017 Partner of the Year by the Partnership for a Healthier America. Since 2004, she’s also been an active Junior League member and developed the Kids in the Kitchen program for their Detroit and Milwaukee chapters. Nicole and her husband, John, have three children. In her spare time, Nicole competes on a rowing team with the Detroit Boat Club Crew.