I’ve been asked recently by a few people if corn is a whole grain. According to the Whole Grains Council, fresh corn is usually classified as a vegetable and dried corn (including popcorn) as a grain.
Corn is a whole grain if the bran, germ, and endosperm are all left intact, just like whole wheat. If the corn is milled or degermed to remove the bran and germ, then it is a refined grain.
When buying products made with corn, such as corn tortillas, taco shells, or cornmeal, be sure to look for words in the ingredient list like ‘whole corn’ or ‘whole grain corn’ to identify that it is a whole grain. Another way to identify whole grains is to look for the whole grain stamp that was created by the Whole Grains Council and is found on many whole grain products. Some products may also have their own symbol identifying the product is made from a whole grain. However, it is always best to look at the ingredient list to be sure the product is made from a whole grain and that it is the first or one of the first couple ingredients in the product.
Some products might say ‘limed whole grain corn’ or ‘limed corn’ in the ingredient list. Limed corn is corn that has been soaked in limewater as part of the process in preparing it to be used for food preparation. Some benefits of limed corn are that it is more easily ground, the flavor and aroma are improved, and the food safety of the corn is improved. Limed corn can be a whole grain or refined grain so it is still important to look for products made from whole grain corn.
Popcorn is also a whole grain and is a healthy snack, as long as it isn’t covered in butter and salt!
I have used several apps to track my food and exercise. The one I am currently using, MyFitnessPal, is just about perfect for me and it receives the highest rating by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you don’t have a smart phone you can do the same thing on the MyFitnessPal web site.
Why do I like it?
- It is free.
- It has a large food database with more than 1,100,000 foods with the option for food or recipe entry.
- It includes a database of more than 350 fitness exercises, with calories burned for a “net” calories remaining.
- It is easy to scan barcodes to add foods.
- It provides a weekly average and other detailed reports and charts of your progress over time. This is motivational for me.
- It offers the analysis of fat, calories, protein and carbohydrates; PLUS iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.
MyFitnessPal also lets you add friends and link to Facebook for support. I haven’t used this feature, but it looks interesting.
There are many signs that summer is here including hot weather, full swimming pools, and sunlight until after 9 pm! Another sign is that sweet corn is starting to show up at the grocery stores, Farmers’ Markets, and street corners. We planted sweet corn on the farm I grew up on so seeing the sweet corn reminds me of my childhood. I’d spend a day or two in the kitchen with my mom, sister, and grandmas freezing sweet corn so we could enjoy eating it throughout the winter.
Currently, the price of a dozen ears of sweet corn at three different grocery stores in Central Iowa is $6/dozen. Local sweet corn is expected to be in the stores around July 15, later than normal because of the cold, wet spring in the Midwest. The local sweet corn will be a bit cheaper.
When selecting sweet corn, look for the following signs of quality:
- Kernels that are plump. Do not choose ears with kernels that have begun to shrivel or ‘dent’.
- Kernels that are ‘milky’ inside so that when pressed with the fingernail the juice pops out.
- Depending on the variety, yellow corn should have a bright yellow color. White corn should be really white.
- Husks which fit snugly around the ear, look fresh, and have good green color. Do not select ears with husks that are dried, yellowed, or straw-colored which are indications of age or damage.
- Shiny dark brown silk is a sign of well-filled kernels. Silk ends should be free from decay or worm injury.
To get the best flavor from sweet corn, it should be eaten as soon as possible after harvesting because the sugars start converting to starches as soon as the corn is picked. If you need to store the sweet corn, leave the corn in the husk and refrigerate as soon as possible. If the corn has been husked, place it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Corn that has been blanched and cut off the cob can be frozen for 6 months to a year.
Here are some tips for cooking with fresh sweet corn:
- Don’t add salt to the water when cooking sweet corn because it will toughen the corn.
- Good, fresh sweet corn does not need to be cooked for long. Try cooking it for just 3 minutes, and see how delicious it can be.
- Two to three medium ears of corn are equivalent to approximately 1 pound, depending on ear size. Two medium ears equal approximately 1 to 1 ½ cups of kernels.
For more tips and directions for microwaving, grilling, or boiling sweet corn, check out the Sunshine Sweet website.
I have to admit I was skeptical when I first tried this recipe. I could not imagine cauliflower, apples, and lettuce together. Now I am a believer. The fresh, mild taste of the crunchy cauliflower, the sweet, tart flavor of the apple, and the ranch dressing are great together.
If you haven’t chopped up a cauliflower before, you’ll be surprised how easy it is.
This salad is great for an everyday meal, a picnic, or for company. You can make it several hours ahead of time and the leftovers are good, although the lettuce is a little wilted the next day.
To make the salad more special sometimes I add sunflower seeds or raisins, use red onions for color, as well as romaine lettuce for color and more nutrition.
Creamy Cauliflower Salad
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Cost Per Serving: $.61
- 2 cups cauliflower broken into florets (about 1/2 head)
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 cups chopped lettuce (romaine works well)
- 1 chopped red or green apple (Braeburn, Granny Smith)
- 1/4 cup light ranch dressing
- Prepare the cauliflower by rinsing well in cold water just before using it. Snap off the outer leaves and discard.
- Use a sharp knife and cutting board to slice off stem and hollow out and remove core.
- Cut or break cauliflower into small pieces called florets.
- Toss cauliflower, onion, lettuce, and apples in a medium bowl.
- Stir in dressing.
- Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Change this recipe by adding other foods such as sunflower seeds or raisins.
- Use red onion to add more color.
- Can be made several hours in advance.
- Great for a picnic. Keep it in the cooler until time to eat.
Whether it is a Superbowl party, a bridal shower, 4th of July, or Christmas, vegetable trays are always on the table. Recently my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and their party was no different; a vegetable tray was on the menu. My original instinct was to go with the convenience of a pre-made vegetable tray because I thought it would be comparable in price. Then Spend Smart asked me to compare the prices and time between homemade and purchased veggie trays. BOY WAS I SURPRISED! Preparing my own tray compared to buying the already assembled tray cost a third the cost of the assembled tray. For that savings I am willing to spend the 23 minutes it took me to prepare the vegetables.
Through this exercise, I learned some things I am going to use for the relish tray I am preparing for my 4th of July picnic. I am going to check out prices of vegetables at other stores to see if I can get a better price. If I have time I will check out a farmers market.
- I am going to substitute green or red peppers for the celery. I like them better, the cost is about the same and the time to prepare them is less than the celery…that way I only have the broccoli to cut up. I might also substitute olives or pickles for one of the other vegetables.
- If all the vegetables I buy do not fit on my tray, I will just bag them up to use as snacks (they are already washed, chopped and ready to eat), or used them later in the week as a side such as a broccoli cauliflower salad.
- If there are kids that want to help, this would be a good way to get them involved with a party.
A little planning in advance can save you a bunch of money when it comes to vegetables trays. (I wonder how much money is to be saved with fruit trays?)
Here is how I figured the cost:
1) First, went to the produce department and talked with an extremely helpful young woman about their prices for already made trays and the weight of each of the vegetables on the tray.
2) I purchased each of the vegetables that were on the pre-made vegetables tray.
3) Twenty-three minutes later I finished washing, chopping, and weighing the vegetables.