Sun-Dried Tomatoes - A Healthy Secret Ingredient

Editor's Note: This article was originally written by patient expert Cathy Hamilton.

My secret ingredient this week will add zip to almost any sandwich, salad - even breakfast eggs - without adding calories, excess sodium or measurable fat.

Sun-dried tomatoes are packed with the same nutritional goodness as their fresh counterparts - Lycopene, antioxidants and vitamin C.  After all, these are just dried-up, shriveled down versions of the tomatoes you find in the produce section.  And - what a bonus - they are always in season

I recently purchased a big pouch of pre-sliced, sun dried tomatoes from Costco and have been putting these little flavor boosters in practically everything:

Tossed in a red leaf lettuce salad with onion, walnuts, a small sprinkling of bleu cheese crumbles and a simple viniagrette of lemon, olive oil and minced garlic (If that doesn't awaken your taste buds, nothing will).

Chopped and mixed in with tuna, green onions, light mayonnaise and a little lemon for a tuna salad with extra zip.

Processed with basil, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese for a knock-out pesto spread on homemade whole wheat pita chips (See recipe below).

Diced and added to scrambled eggs with green pepper, chopped spinach and red onion for an extraordinary breakfast.

Chopped finely and added to salad dressings, light mayo or herb mustards for a blast of extra flavor on those old standby recipes.

Get creative with this fabulous, flavor-packed secret ingredient and feel like a real gourmet.  Be sure to share your ideas here in the comments section so others can try them, too!

Recipe for Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1 Clove Garlic

1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves

2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts

Salt & Pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together in blender or food processor. For best results pesto should not be cooked. Use immediately, store unused portions in fridge or freezer.