August 21st 2011

Corn: it’s what’s for dinner

At this time of year, nothing tastes better than some love from the garden. And corn is right at its peak.

This starchy vegetable is chock-full of nutrients, tastes great, and is easy to prepare.

Here are some of the benefits of adding fresh corn to your diet, along with some simple recipes to make it delicious.

Recent research has shown that the the antioxidant benefits from different varieties of corn comes from varied combinations of phytonutrients. For example, yellow corn (probably the most common), is rich in carotenoids, with especially high concentrations of both lutein and zeaxanthin. Blue corn, on the other hand, is high in anthocyanins. And purple corn touts hydroxybenzoic acid, which houses all of its activity.

Carotenoid antioxidants in yellow corn vary to what kind of yellow corn you’re consuming. In yellow cornmeal, for example, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are of a higher concentration, with levels of 1,355 micrograms per 100 grams.

Corn is also a great source of fibre, with a high ratio of insoluble and soluble fibre. In general, foods that contain more of a certain type of fibre are metabolized differently. When soluble fibre, for example, reaches the lower part of our large intestine it can be metabolized by intestinal bacteria into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). This helps support healthy populations of good bacteria in our large intestine, and also gives energy (in the form of SCFAs) to the cells in our large intestine. In turn, this reduces the risk of certain cancers, such as colon cancer.

Overall, corn is a good source of vitamin B1, fibre, folate, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamin B5.

Here are three of our favourite recipes for our fresh summer favorite.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa

  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 poblano peppers, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (3 or 4 ears)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Put the tomatoes and peppers, skin-side up, on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the corn kernels around the peppers. Bake until the vegetables are darkened and blistered, about 20 minutes.

Put the tomatoes and peppers inside of a resealable plastic bag. Seal. Let stand for 10 minutes to loosen the skins. Peel and chop the tomatoes and peppers, discarding the seeds of the peppers. Transfer the tomatoes, peppers, and corn in a large bowl. Add the black beans, scallions, oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Serve immediately or let sit for flavors to meld.

Cheesy Corn Chowder (with vegan variation)

  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped (or use cremini mushrooms for vegan. Different flavor, still delicious)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped onions (4 large onions)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or nondairy margarine
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 6 cups diced white potatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 10 cups fresh corn kernels (8 to 10 ears), blanched in salted water for 3 minutes
  • 2 cups half-and-half or thick nondairy milk
  • 1/2 pound sharp white cheddar or mozzarella daiya

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and oil until the bacon is crispy, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to move the bacon to a plate. If using mushrooms, cook until all water is removed from the mushrooms and they are very concentrated. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and butter to the bacon fat or mushroom oil, and cook for 10 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn to the mixture. Stir. Add the half-and-half or nondairy milk and cheddar or daiya. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Corn-Stuffed Quesadillas

  • 1/4 cup chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 ears of corn
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons diced roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  • 6 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 medium flour tortillas
  • 5 tablespoons sliced scallions

Preheat a grill to high heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the chipotle, lime juice and sour cream together. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roast the corn over a medium flame. Let cool and cut the kernels off of the cob.

In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, jalapenos, onions, and black beans. Saute until the onions are clear and cooked through. Add the tomatoes, corn kernels and roasted bell pepper. Stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add  the salt, pepper, cumin and 3 tablespoons of the cilantro. Remove the pan from heat and let rest.

Evenly distribute the mixture, the remaining cilantro, and the cheeses among 4 tortillas. Top with remaining tortillas.

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet. Transfer the sheet to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until cheeses have melted and the quesadillas are warmed through. Cut each into 6 pieces.

Serve with chipoltle sour cream and garnished with scallions.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.