Polenta, made from yellow or white corn that is freshly ground within the 2-3 weeks after the harvest period, can be cooked to be thick and creamy, or allowed to set and then sliced. Furthermore, it can be served instead of rice, pasta, or potatoes.
It is a staple of Northern Italian cuisine but is also an excellent side dish for any meal. It’s also wonderful for children and babies.
Health benefits of corn consumption
Many studies have concluded that by eating polenta we fight against liver, diabetes, and even respiratory diseases. Furthermore, these studies have shown that consumption of corn can support the growth of friendly bacteria in our colon and can be transformed by these friendly bacteria into SCFAs – short-chain fatty acids.
Moreover, it is a remarkable source of magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin B6. Collectively, these essential nutrients support your metabolism. In addition, iron has an important role in red blood cell production, while vitamin B6 helps your cardiovascular system to function properly. More importantly, corn contains numerous bioactive plant substances that have many health benefits for the human body. Actually, it is well-known that corn contains a higher amount of antioxidants than many other cereal grains.
Polenta is low in calories (for example 100 grams of bread contains 200 calories, whereas 100g of polenta contains only 85 calories – if cooked with added fats), high in starch (in fact, your brain needs at least 130 grams of carbs daily just to function correctly) and has no gluten, meaning that polenta can be consumed by sensitive individuals who are gluten intolerant.
Similar to other starchy foods, it’s a very good sugar (fuel) provider and can also help you lose extra weight (assuming you don’t add oil or butter). One reason is the high content of dietary fiber the corn contains, which helps you fill your stomach after a meal and helps soften your stool to prevent constipation.
Ingredients for homemade vegan polenta
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
Traditional polenta can take up to 50 minutes to an hour to cook, depending on the coarseness.
Boil the water and salt in an iron pot or a copper pan. If you don’t have either, use the one ready at hand. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Moreover, reduce the heat to a low level and keep stirring, until the mixture thickens.
Let it boil, depending on how thick you prefer it. If it seems too soft, let it boil a few more minutes. The longer it boils, the more it thickens.
- While the polenta is cooking, stir it frequently.
- Traditionally, a heavy pot is used to cook polenta which is helping to keep polenta from sticking.
- The amount of salt needed to make polenta taste “salty” is very low. It is also recommended to sprinkle it on top of the polenta before consuming it, instead of adding it into the recipe.
- To make it creamy again, warm it with a little water, and stir vigorously.
- Pair it with a healthier alternative, such as roasted mushrooms, grilled vegetables, tomato sauce, spicy greens, zucchini, or peppers complement this natural and gluten free meal beautifully.
- After cooking, it will last for 2-3 days if you store it in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place.
- To make fried polenta slices, use the above method to make the normal version but use 1 part corn to 4 parts water.