Sweet Summer Corn

by WakeMed Voices // July - August - September 2022

It wouldn’t be summer in North Carolina without sweet, summer corn to brighten up your diet. Native to North Carolina, corn (also known as maize) grows here primarily in the coastal plains where the rich soil is ideal. It’s typically planted in April, and is harvested during the summer months – making it the perfect addition to any cookout menu. While the starchy vegetable is often a key ingredient in many processed foods, in its purest, fresh form, corn can bring a variety of health benefits.

High in fiber, corn aids with digestion and contains both vitamin C as well as important B vitamins that support a number of important functions in the body. It’s also rich in several essential minerals, including zinc, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. Featuring antioxidants such as carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, a diet rich in corn can support good eye health.

However, it’s higher in starch than most vegetables, which can raise your blood sugar, so it’s best to keep your portion size small, particularly for people with diabetes.

Incorporating Corn into a Heart Healthy Diet

Corn is delicious by itself, and it tastes great boiled, broiled, roasted, steamed, or grilled. It’s ideal for incorporating into a wide variety of side dishes, and can be used in just about any type of cuisine – from Southern style cooking to Southwestern meals.

If you need some inspiration, here are a few creative and healthy suggestions for incorporating corn into your summer menu.

– Toss in a salad or salsa. The crunch and color of sweet corn make it a great addition to a summer salad or salsa. It pairs well with salad greens, tomatoes, avocado, black beans, and red onion.

– Spice it up! Corn’s mild flavor can be kicked up a notch with any blend of herbs and spices. Options such as paprika, cumin, chili powder, and parsley are popular favorites – and can serve as a good substitute for salt for patients with high blood pressure.

– Pair it with protein. Since corn is fairly high in carbohydrates, it’s best to use in moderation – and pairing it with a protein can help balance blood sugar and keep you feeling full for longer. Consider serving with black beans or a lean protein such as chicken or fish … and it’s also a must-include ingredient for a summer seafood boil!

– Brighten up your soup. Corn is a perfect addition to a tasty summer soup, adding color and texture. Try incorporating sweet corn into any vegetable soup, chowder, or even in a light chicken chili.

– Get it on the grill. Corn is bold enough to stand on its own as a tasty and healthy side dish. Grilling corn on the cob is easy, and brings out its sweet flavor. Avoid slathering with high-fat butter or mayonnaise and instead use cooking spray and opt for a blend of spices before grilling. A squeeze of lime juice and honey, low-fat sour cream mixed with garlic, or a sprinkle of low-fat cheese make for tasty and healthy toppings once it’s off the grill.

Corn AND Black Bean Summer Salsa

– 2 cups low sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed
– 2 tablespoons red onion, diced
– 1 tablespoon Serrano chili pepper, minced (can be replaced with jalapeño or bell pepper for milder flavor)
– 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
– 1/8 teaspoon salt (pinch)
– 1 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
– 1 tablespoon lime juice
– 2 cups corn kernels (frozen, defrosted)
– 1 tablespoon canola oil

Drain and rinse the beans and add to a large bowl. Chop the onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and Serrano pepper. Add to black beans. Add defrosted frozen corn, salt, pepper, oil, and lime juice. Toss together, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow blending of flavors. Serve on top of chicken or fish, or with your favorite tortilla chips.

Zesty Grilled Corn on the Cob

– 4 ears shucked corn on the cob
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
– 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
– Cooking spray
– Optional garnish: Lime wedge, sliced radish, quartered cherry tomatoes, sriracha sauce

Blend salt, pepper, and chili powder into a small bowl. Set aside. Spray each ear of corn lightly with cooking spray on all sides. Sprinkle with seasoning blend. Grill for about 10 minutes over medium heat, turning frequently to avoid burning. Top with cheese and parsley. Garnish with lime wedge, sliced radish, tomatoes, and a squeeze of sriracha sauce.

WakeMed Voices

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