Fresh corn

Fresh corn is dense with nutrients. It is high in beta carotene, phosphorous, lutein, zeaxanthin, potassium, choline, magnesium, and fiber.

Fresh corn is one of the culinary pleasures of life. Snack and party food, such as corn on the cob, corn and black bean salsa (a.k.a Southern Caviar), are among the favorites. Corn, popular around the world, was cultivated 8,000 years ago in Central and South America and by Native Americans. To this day, it is a staple in those cultures’ daily meals and also plays a spiritual role.

Although containing naturally-occurring sugar higher than most vegetables, and should therefore be consumed in moderation, most people don’t realize that fresh corn is dense with nutrients. It is high in beta carotene, phosphorous, lutein, zeaxanthin, potassium, choline, magnesium, and fiber.

Corn is a member of the grass family that includes wheat, oats, rice, barley, rye, and millet. The kernels are the fruit of the plant as well as its seeds. Sweet corn, consumed as a vegetable, is different from corn grown for feeding livestock, for corn syrup production, oil, corn starch, meal and flour, and for ethanol fuel. In its dried and ground state, corn is considered a grain and is gluten-free. It does not, however, offer the same nutritional level as fresh (and raw frozen) corn.

Baby (miniature) corn is not a specific cultivar. It is simply harvested very early. Corn varieties include black, purple, yellow, red, speckled, and white. Unfortunately, most U.S. corn crops are genetically modified (GM), also known as genetically engineered (GE), and are also heavily sprayed with pesticides. It is therefore highly recommended to buy corn that is organic and non-GM exclusively. Most grocery stores carry, at least, bags of organic raw frozen kernels. Look for the official, certified USDA organic logo. Steamed (still frozen) for 5 minutes, the kernels can then be used in numerous dishes, even added to your mixed raw vegetable salad. Steam corn-on-the-cob, (cut in half to fit your pot) for 12 minutes. Big flavor is on the menu. Enjoy delicious new ways to boost the nutritional value of your meals. The following are some recipes for you to try:

Corn-Bell Pepper Salad

2 servings

2 cups raw frozen corn kernels

1 green onion, thinly sliced

½ red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

Dressing

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Steam corn 5 minutes. Promptly rinse in gently running cold water for few seconds to halt cooking process. Drain and cool on a plate. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix all dressing ingredients. Add onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and corn.

Veggie Succotash

2 servings

2 tablespoons cooking olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 green zucchini, ends trimmed, peeled

3 green onions, sliced, including their whites

½ red bell pepper, chopped

½ cup frozen corn kernels

¾ tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

In skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Remove garlic from skillet and place on small plate. Set aside. Cut zucchini in half crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise. Place each quarter, flat-side-down, on cutting board. Place two quarters side-by-side and slice thinly. Repeat procedure with remaining quarters. Add zucchini slices, onions, bell pepper, salt, pepper, and oregano to skillet. Cover and cook slowly, 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn and cook 5 more minutes. Add lemon juice and garlic and serve immediately.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa (Southern Caviar)

Yield: 4 -5 cups

2.5 cups corn kernels from 4 ears or frozen kernels

1 cup cooked black beans, drained

3 green onions, thinly sliced, including their whites

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped

Dressing:

Juice of 2 limes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Steam corn 5 minutes. (If frozen, no need to thaw out). Promptly remove from stove and run gentle stream of water over them for 5 seconds to halt cooking process. Drain. Transfer to plate to cool and set aside. In medium bowl make dressing, and add all the other ingredients. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.

Tip: To chop the jalapeno use gloves, then wash the gloved hands, cutting board, and knife with soap and water before removing gloves.

Judy E. Buss is a nutritional cooking instructor, blogger for the American Holistic Health Association, and speaker.

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