|New Veggie #68 - Polenta|
Polenta is a staple food of Northern Italy, and is far less famous than its traditional cousin, pasta. It was traditionally considered peasant food because it was made from cheap corn instead of other grains. It was considered a staple in winter months when fresh food was scarce. It is made from ground yellow or white corn that has had the germ removed. It can be used as the main dish, as a side as a grain, and is often even used in desserts because of its smooth texture. It is extremely versatile. It can be baked, boiled, fried or grilled, and has a neutral bland flavor that allows it to be modified to multiple recipes and tastes.
While traditionally sold as powdered cornmeal, pre-made tubes are a norm in most American supermarkets which makes it easy to slice and bake, broil, fry or grill. Always make sure that the package you buy has limited ingredients - corn meal and water being the 2 basic ingredients and no added oil.
Nutritionally, Polenta is low on simple sugars and high on complex carbohydrates, making it a low glycemic index grain. It is rich in vitamin A and C making it a good source of the caroteinoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, foods made from milled yellow corn including polenta provide a natural and excellent source of carotenoids. Polenta is high in protein, with each 8-oz serving containing almost 10 g of protein. It is also rich in trace elements such as potassium, iron and zinc, as well as small doses of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. And it is gluten-free!!!