Tomatoes are in full season now, from heirlooms, to meaty plum varieties, to black cherry and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.It may be debated whether the tomato is considered a fruit or a vegetable, but there’s no question that tomatoes are delicious and packed full of much needed nutrients.They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidant lycopene, fiber and potassium and have anti- inflammatory properties. Studies show that a diet rich in tomatoes may not only reduce the risk of cardiovascular and associated diseases, but tomatoes and tomato products can also improve our skin, bones and brain health.AHA: Sun-Damaged Skin? Eat Tomatoes!Pair them on and off the plate:Basil and tomato are perfect companions for soups, salads and just about anything. But, recent studies show that their compatibility does not end here. Not only will planting basil near the tomatoes deter unwanted bugs, but growing the two plants near one another will also have some flavor-enhancing benefits. No wonder it’s a classic!COLUMN: Plant These for Better HealthGet Beautiful with Gazpacho!Makes 64 oz, or eight one-cup servings


  • 2 cups ¼ inch diced peeled and seeded cucumber
  • 1 cup   ¼ inch diced red pepper
  • 1 cup   ¼ inch diced orange pepper
  • 2 cups  ¼ inch diced seeded ripe tomatoes
  • ½ cup  Fine minced red onion
  • 2 cups  Tomato juice
  • 3 TBSP  Red wine vinegar
  • 3 TBSP  Lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP  Fine minced fresh garlic
  • 4 TBSP  Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 dashes Hot pepper sauce
  • 2 TBSP  Fresh chopped basil
  • 2 TBSP  Fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp    Kosher salt

Procedure:Place all ingredients in large bowl, mix together well. Remove half of the amount and pulse to a coarse consistency in a food processor or blender. Return to bowl with remaining ingredients, mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.Enjoy gazpacho made with fresh wonderful seasonal tomatoes before the summer is over and get a good supply of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals for powerful health benefits. This wonderful combination not only tastes good but makes us feel beautiful inside and out.To put the great tomato debate to rest, yes, we know the tomato is botanically a fruit but many consider it a vegetable at heart. So, enjoy the raw food benefits of this great tasting gazpacho and continue to look your best naturally!QUIZ: How Pretty Is Your Diet Today? Precious Lopez contributed to this column.