Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Lithium-Rich Tomatillo and Your Health

Do you enjoy salsa but want to try something different? Consider the tomatillo, the small, green, tomato-like fruit used to make green salsas in the American Southwest. You don't need to look for tomatillo salsa recipes, just use as you would use tomatoes, but for an entirely different taste.

And if you are dealing with an angry aggressive mood, eating the salsa with a modest number of (10-15) tortilla chips is perfectly acceptable. As hard as it may be to believe, fried tortilla chips are better for you than baked. Fried chips are made with more bran, and their carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly.

The tomatillo (pronounced toe-ma-TEA-yo or toe-ma-TEA-o) is a Mexican vegetable also known as the husk tomato or jamberry. In Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, and the American Southwest, it is common in home vegetable gardens, and it is grown commercially in California and Texas. The tomatillo produces an edible fruit resembling a small green tomato, except it has a thin, parchmentlike covering. The husk is brown and the fruit firm and bright green when it is ripe. Light green or yellow tomatillos and soft tomatillos are overripe and should be discarded. The husk is not edible.

You can spot a good tomatillo in the market by its fresh, waxy husk. Reject fruit with a dry husk. A slightly sticky surface on the fruit itself is normal. Fresh tomatillos will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks, or up to a month if you first remove the husks and place the ripe fruit in breathe-through plastic bags before refrigeration. Tomatillos should not be stored in the refrigerator at temperatures below 41ºF (5º C), since excessive chilling will cause them to pit and decay. Tomatillos also may be frozen whole or sliced.

Tex-Mex cuisine uses tomatillos to make guacamole and dos salsas, literally two salsas, the red salsa made with tomatoes and the green salsa made with tomatillos. Tomatillos can be chopped and added to any salads, and they make an excellent addition to a raw soup when you want a tangy, lemony touch. The acidity of the tomatillo makes salsas and salads resistant to spoilage, keeping fresh under refrigeration for several days.

Although diets that exclude potatoes and tomatoes should also exclude tomatillos, the tiny tomatillo is highly nutritious. One medium raw tomatillo comes in at a measly 11 calories, yet it provides 91 mg of potassium. It is the best vegetable source of the B-vitamin niacin, and provides calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. And if moodiness is an issue, you’ll be happy to know that tomatillos are especially high in lithium. Imagine the benefits if you include several in your tomatillo recipe.

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