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How to Replace Tomatoes in Your Favorite Dishes

Tomato-free mango salsa in a bowl with tortilla chips and lime

Can’t have tomatoes? Here’s how to give them up—and still love what you’re eating.

If you get heartburn regularly, you probably already know that the key to managing it is to avoid anything that causes your symptoms to flare up. That means staying away from your trigger foods. But what do you do when your trigger food is really common, like tomatoes? If you get heartburn two or more days a week (aka frequent heartburn), you can treat it when it hits with medication like Nexium 24HR.

You can also try skipping tomatoes. But then you remember pizza. Salsa. Marinara sauce. Ketchup. And then it starts to feel like a futile exercise — until you try these satisfying tomato substitutes!

Easy and Delicious Tomato Substitutes

Basis of your burn: Pizza sauce
Tomato-free swap: Pesto. This blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan can spread easily over pizza dough and is a terrific alternative to red sauce. Pesto is a tomato-free sauce that pairs well with a variety of toppings, like richly flavored roasted squash, mushrooms, or sage; salt bombs such as prosciutto, capers, olives, or anchovies; and cheeses like Parmesan (yes, more of it), ricotta, or mozzarella.

Basis of your burn: Ketchup on your eggs
Tomato-free swap: Za’atar. This aromatic Middle Eastern spice mix is a combination of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, salt, sesame seeds, and sumac. Try sprinkling some over your eggs to brighten the flavor sans sogginess. (Looking for more ways to try za’atar? Try this recipe for tomato-free stuffed peppers.)

Pizza with green pesto, arugula, peas and radish

Basis of your burn: Red pasta sauce
Tomato-free swap: Butternut squash-based sauce. A sauce with roasted squash provides a tasty, rich (but healthy!) alternative to a classic red sauce. You can mash it up or puree it for a smoother sauce, as in this cheesy butternut squash cavatappi bake, or keep it chunky, like in this recipe for tomato-free pappardelle with butternut squash and blue cheese. Butternut squash not in season? Try canned pumpkin as your base.

Basis of your burn: Salsa with chips
Tomato-free swap: Mango salsa. Chopped mango mixed with diced red peppers, green onions, and cilantro will provide texture, sweetness, and tang that’s so good, you won’t miss the tomato. This tomato-free recipe tastes great with chips and a squeeze of lime on top.

Basis of your burn: Tomato slices on your sandwich
Tomato-free swap: Roasted red peppers, refreshing cucumber slices, roasted beets, and figs are just a few options to replace that slightly sweet, juicy tomato. You might find that you prefer your gourmet tomato substitute!

Basis of your burn:Tomato soup with your grilled cheese sandwich
Tomato-free swap: Onion soup. Onion soup is basically made for grilled cheese sandwiches—after all, French onion soup pretty much has a mini grilled cheese on top. Dress up your onion soup with rosemary, roast the onions first, or add some mushrooms.

Looking for more no-tomato recipes? Check out 14 protein-packed meals to help heartburn and find other great health and wellness stories at

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