News & Notes
New You Nutrition Newsletter.
A BIG THANK YOU!! to the attendees of my Healthy Lunches talk at the West Portal Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. I had a great time! I love the people I meet at the WPL - I always come away with new ideas and new stuff to research.
Tuesday, October 10 @ 6:30 p.m.
- I'll share some recipes that are tasty and will 'WOW' your family and friends at gatherings (you don't need to tell them they're eating healthful foods with no dairy, no added sugar, and no gluten).
Alas, when I had braces affixed to my teeth, some forbidden things didn’t bother me – no gum (okay), no soda (fine, I didn’t drink it anyway) …but, no corn on the cob? This was very sad…until my dad, in his genius, took a chef’s knife and cut the kernels of cooked corn from the cob. Just for me. Slap on some butter, dash a little salt and voila! (Nearly) as good as the ‘real’ thing. Dad had saved Summer.
White corn vs. yellow corn. In preparing for this month’s newsletter, I wanted to know the effect using white corn (vs. yellow corn) might have on the Corn Farrotto recipe. The difference between the two is not in flavor/sweetness, but in phytonutrient content/color. Yellow corn has more beta carotene, providing a bit more nutrition than white corn. Various phytonutrient content is what makes corn white, yellow, pink, red, black, blue, striped, or spotted.
Regional note/‘Corn’ confusion. I use ‘corn’ in the American vernacular. The true name of the grain is maize, and is named as such throughout most of the world. In Germany, ‘korn’ refers to rye; in Scotland and Ireland, ‘corn’ refers to what Americans call oats; and English discussions of ‘corn’ refer to what Americans call wheat.
Food Safety. Genetically modified corn has been altered to have insecticidal protein components. The insecticidal protein exhibits characteristics of allergens. Whenever possible. Purchase organic, non-GMO corn.
Also, corn contains at least moderate amounts of oxalate. If you have a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones, consider limiting your corn consumption.
- B1/thiamine – energy production, carbohydrate metabolism, nerve cell function
- B5/pantothenic acid – utilization of carbohydrates and fat in energy production, adrenal hormone manufacture, RBC manufacture, important for optimal adrenal function (‘the anti-stress vitamin)
- C/ascorbic acid - collagen manufacture
- E - antioxidant protective of cell membranes
- Folic acid/folate/folacin (necessary for proper cell division)
- Magnesium/Mg - energy production, protein formation, cellular replication
- Phosphorus/Ph - energy metabolism, calcium absorption & utilization
- Lutein (protective against heart disease, macular degeneration)
I like the simplicity and seasonality of the ingredients – Corn stock is super-simple to make, and I always have farro, onion, pepper, sea salt, parmesan cheese, butter and olive oil in the larder. Adding fresh organic seasonal corn, tomato, basil, and mushrooms makes for a quick and inexpensive trip to the supermarket.
I also made a gluten-free and vegan variation; please see notes at the end of the recipe.
½ C minced onion
4 T Olive oil (EVOO), divided
Fine sea salt
4 C water
1 C farro
1/3 C Parmesan cheese, finely grated
½ C chopped red onion
1 dry pt cherry tomatoes
8 oz mushrooms
- Rinse and soak faro for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove kernels from 3 ears of corn; reserve cobs.
- In sauce pan, sauté minced onion with 1½ C corn kernels and pinch of salt until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add 4 cups water and corn cobs to corn and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain cooked corn mixture, reserving liquid and corn cobs.
- Puree cooked corn, adding reserved broth slowly, to make a smooth puree, 1 1/3 C.
- Drain faro. In second sauce pan, heat EVOO and butter over medium heat. Sauté faro until it crackles and releases nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Cook faro according to package directions using corn broth, about 30 minutes.
- Add water to remaining corn broth (with cobs) to total 2 cups. Simmer on low heat.
- When farro is al dente, remove lid and add remaining corn broth by half-cup measures, stirring frequently until liquid is just absorbed. Continue adding and cooking-off liquid until faro is soft and creamy. (You might not use all the corn broth).
- Add corn puree, continue to cook over low heat, continuing to stir frequently.
- Add cheese and stir in completely just before serving. Season with salt and pepper.
The topping and garnish can be prepared during the above cooking processes; just keep it warm to spoon over farroto just before serving.
- Sauté reserved corn kernels, red onion, mushrooms and tomatoes in EVOO and butter until onion is translucent, corn and mushrooms are soft and cooked through. Cut tomatoes in half and cook on low heat until skins are soft.
- Vegan option: Substitute a bit more olive oil and lower heat for butter. Substitute 1/4C to 1/3C nutritional yeast for cheese. Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the best choice among olive oil varieties. EVOO is best used with low-heat cooking to avoid oxidation and creation of free-radicals. Nutritional yeast is a flavorful way to add a subtle cheesy taste to foods while providing vitamin B12.
- Gluten free option: I wanted to make a GF version of this dish, without relying on nutritionally devoid white rice. I used whole millet (not millet grits), following the methodology above. While the result closely resembled polenta, the nutritional result was far greater: whole millet provides more than twice the protein of corn grits. Polenta (corn grits) is less nutritious than grain stripped off germ and bran. The Oldways Whole Grains Council has a lovely diagram of the different parts of grains.
Time saver: Substituting frozen corn kernels will give flavor and nutritional content close to fresh corn. Canned corn could be used, but the sodium levels might alter the flavor of the farrotto. Canned cream corn processed through the blender could make a substitute for the puree, but don’t forget to add in sautéed onion for flavor. Always check sodium levels when purchasing canned goods, and always buy BPA-free cans.
Enjoy corn throughout the year: When fresh corn goes on sale at your local super- or farmer’s market, stock up! You can always cut the kernels from the cob and freeze them. Frozen vegetables retain more of their nutritional value than canned varieties.