Do you have specific things that your mom said to you growing up that ring in your ears as part of your everyday life?  It can be little things like the way she said I love you or how she answered the phone.  It can be little affirmations that she would tell you all the time or even ways you were reprimanded.  (My mom is now reading this and feeling nervous as to what I’m about to say.) 

On a daily basis, I get to hear my mom’s voice….part of it is because I call her all the time and the other part is that I can hear her words of wisdom in my daily activities.  It is a comfort in my life and a realization that there are times I know I’ve become my mother.  (Some people may protest that comparison….I respond with a thank you.)

I do have one sentence my mom would utter that makes it way in my life every day…..and it makes me smile.  Nope, it wasn’t I love you…but she has said that infinite times in my life.  And no, it wasn’t you are my favorite.  (She says she doesn’t have favorites but concludes that sentence with fits of laughter, slaps her knee and winks at me…..and so my sisters don’t get upset…she never slaps her knee!!) 

One of my mom’s favorite sayings was “sugar is poison.”  Ahhh, the memories.  When we were kids, my mom didn’t keep us from eating candy or sweets.  They came with a warning label….sugar is poison.  Before it was cool, Mom knew about things like high fructose corn syrup and the hidden sugars in food.  She knew her portion sizes and would even count out our Good and Plenty into little gray Tupperware containers so we could have some treats but not more than we would need.

I don’t think this marred me from eating sweets as an adult, it just makes me think before I purchase the larger bag of gummy bears.  I look at the bag and think “Do I need this?”  It sure looks good but sugar is poison and do I need poison?  The answer is always the same….no I don’t need it but ha, ha, Mom, I’m an adult!  (This is pretty much as rebellious as I get.)

I buy the big honking bag of candy and sit in front of the TV and inhale the whole thing.  (I also sit really close to the TV and run around the house with scissors and wet hair because if I’m going to rebel….I’m going to go all out.)

After a mad flurry of shoving the chewy little bears in my mouth chewing obnoxiously and manically laughing, the bag is gone. Wait, how did this happen?  I didn’t even save a red one for last.  You are always supposed to save a red one for last.  I start to panic, um, I don’t feel good.  What did I just do?  These things are like lead in my stomach.  I just polluted my body with 50 grams of sugar!  I felt like I needed to detox so I started drinking a lot of water.  Maybe I can dissolve the sugar internally if I drink warm water?  I heat my water up and burn my lip.  Arghh.  Curses.

The worst part of all of this is that I can’t even call my mom and complain about the river of gummy bears floating through my digestive system.  She wouldn’t make fun of me….she would listen thoughtfully in that mom way but I know in her head she would be thinking “I told you sugar was poison.”

After this episode, I had to find a way to curb my urge for something sweet.  What could I substitute?  It has to be something naturally sweet and wouldn’t be the bane of my existence.  I looked around my house and found what I needed just outside my door….tomatoes….nature’s candy.

I could slowly dry my grape tomatoes in the oven and it would concentrate their unbelievably sweet essence.  It would make me feel like I was getting a little something special without filling my body with venom.  Even better with a little garlic added in and a healthy toss of salt, I’d satisfy all my cravings at once!

I walked out of the house with a bowl in hand and started to pick about 2-3 cups of fresh tomatoes.  For a split second, I almost made a run for the neighbor’s house….they always have candy…no…don’t do it…sugar is poison.

As my bowl filled up, I kept thinking of how delectable my new treat was going to be while being good for me too.  Yep, I can do this.  I gave the tomatoes a quick wash and sliced them lengthwise.  A light toss in olive oil  and the tomatoes were put in a single layer on a baking sheet.  I added a few cloves of fresh garlic and let it cook at 200 degrees for HOURS.  (This was the hard part waiting and not giving into temptation.)

I checked on them after 2 hours and the warm luscious scent was like Mother Nature rewarding me for good behavior.  (Yes, I know there still is sugar in the tomato but it is significantly less than that is candy and tomatoes are filled with vitamins and antioxidants.)

After the third hour, I had the shakes.  I really wanted my candy.  This shows that I have a problem.  Sugar isn’t just poison, it is addictive like a drug and I say no to drugs!  (My mom never had to go on that bandwagon with us but Nancy Reagan also had a way of saying things that stuck in my head.)

I peeked in the oven one last time, the tomatoes that were once big, red and plump were now shriveled and glistened with a dark shiny hue.  I gave them a hearty sprinkle of Maldon sea salt and tasted one……HOLY COW!!!  These were delicious.  Mom would be so proud.  These were so tasty and good for me too.

So I kept eating them….actually….I ate half the pan and gave myself a stomach ache.  Dang it!!!  I can’t win.  It was at that moment I heard my mom’s voice again ringing in my head….”Less is more”…sigh.  She is always right!!!

(Love you Mom!!!)

Tomato Candy
I have a tendency to burn a couple of tomatoes on purpose because I like the crispy, char flavor. It also provides a nice juxtaposition to the chewy sweeter pieces.
  • 2-3 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise.
  • a swirl of olive oil, you want to just get the tomatoes a little wet not drenched in oil
  • a good sprinkle of a flaky sea salt (Maldon is my favorite)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Toss the sliced tomatoes and garlic, if using, with olive oil
  4. Spred in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Here is the key….place them with the cut side UP. This will keep the tomato juices from seeping out in the beginning.
  6. Bake for 2 hours. Give it a stir (at this point it doesn’t matter what side is up or down)
  7. Check on it every 30 minutes or so. You want the finished product to have a darker tone and still be a little squishy….not as squishy as a gummy bear….but so much better for you.