Updated: November 4th, 2020

Last December, goodhousekeeping.com forecasted “Plant-Based Everything” in their “10 Healthy Eating Trends You Should Know in 2016” article. Writers reviewed the attributes of plant-based lifestyles and agree that “Plant-based diets simply refer to the idea of a more sustainable eating pattern for both health and environmental reasons: Eat more plants, eat fewer animal products (London, 2015).”  If this sounds like something you can handle, take a closer look at garden vegetables. 

Growing seasonal vegetables at home can make it easier to meet your health goals. Vegetables like heirloom tomatoes are traditional vegetables that have maintained their original, or non-hybridized, plant DNA. This means they are easily recognized by the body as food and often more flavorful than the regular supermarket tomato. Heirloom tomatoes are abundant from June to September on the east coast and are available at most markets during the summer. Tomatoes hold their own in the nutrition ring, but how the plant is grown and prepared plays a major role in its flavor and nutrient profile. The tomato’s deep red pigment comes from the carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that is known to be anti-inflammatory and support tissue function while protecting against disease or cancer, particularly in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and reproductive systems. According to NutritionFacts.org “The lycopene in tomatoes may be protective against prostate cancer and cervical cancer (Greger, 2016).” 

This recipe by MUIH Nutrition Intern Trina Cobbler, MS, highlights the robust garden flavor of the heirloom tomato to create a respectable marinara sauce seasoned with classic Italian herbs and spices.


3 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped and seeded

¼ cup soaked and drained sundried tomatoes

6 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon Himalayan salt or ½ stalk of celery

To taste, optional: equal parts fresh, chopped lemon basil leaves, thyme, rosemary leaves, oregano, and garlic (1 clove)


  1. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until almost smooth but still chunky in texture.
  2. Pour sauce into a fine strainer and medium size bowl. Allow the excess water to drain from the sauce, about 10 minutes.
  3. Spread even layer of sauce on pizza crust, use in vegetable noodle pasta, or try as a dip. Store extra sauce in air tight container for 5–7 days.


London, J. (2015). 10 Healthy Eating Trends You Should Know in 2016; we’re talking pulses, ancient grains and nooch. Retrieved from http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a35989/healthy-eating-trends-2016/

Greger, M. (2013). Tomatoes. Retrieved from http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/tomatoes/