Healthy Smoothies

BLACK QUINOA CORN MUFFINS

Corn: Your queries answered.
1. GMOs – Hot Topic! The first thing I gotta address with corn, is of course, GMOs. It is common knowledge and of wide concern that a large percentage of the conventionally grown corn in the United States and Canada come from genetically modified (GM) seeds. Boo. If you are looking your exposure to GM foods, choose organically grown corn, since the current USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of GM seeds for growing foods to be labeled as organically grown. Yay. Some conscious food manufacturers are now using non-GMO corn and labeling their products as such, which is also helpful for those of us who don’t want to be treated like a science project. I still feel that it is better to purchase organically, as this will also support healthier agricultural practices.
If you live in Europe, all GM products are labeled, including imported foodstuffs. Even if the product is not certified organic, it still must indicate if it contains more than 0.5% GM ingredients.

2. Allergies – Yes, corn is very allergenic, and sadly, increasingly difficult to avoid. If you chose to eat a whole-foods diet, you can steer clear of the incredible amount of corn-derived additives in everything from soft drinks to chicken-fried steak, but if you like your TV dinners, you can bet you’re getting a good dose of corn without ever nearing a single kernel. That being said, you can even gain exposure to corn through some envelopes and stamp glue, plastic food wrappers, bath soap, emollient cream, toothpaste, bath powder, mouthwash, liquid medication, and dietary supplements. Yikes!
To prevent developing an allergy or sensitivity to corn, or to manage an existing one, it is imperative to read the labels of everything you expose your body to, both internally and externally to prevent yourself from ingesting corn on a regular basis (i.e. every single day). Once in a while it is totally cool to eat corn – it is so darn tasty after all.
If you suspect you may have food allergies or insensitivities, pay close attention to how you feel after eating corn, or ingesting corn-containing products.
Sorry, was that scary? On to the good news!

3. Nutrition – Corn and milled cornmeal contain a whole host of vital nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folate, vitamin C and vitamin B1 (thiamine). It is also a good source of dietary fiber.
New research published in October’s issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reveals significant health benefits in milled yellow corn products, such as corn meal, grits and corn flour. The study, authored by Mario Ferruzzi, Ph.D., associate professor, department of food science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., demonstrates milled yellow corn products are rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids, such as lutein. Carotenoids are yellow and orange plant pigments known for their association in the prevention of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.
Though high in protein, corn itself is not an adequate protein source. It lacks two essential amino acids required to be a complete protein: lysine and tryptophan. But don’t worry about that ya’ll – I actually made up for this amino acid deficiency by including quinoa for lysine and chia for tryptophan. You see? It may just seem like a run-of-the-mill recipe, but I am so behind-the-scenes making sure to cover all the bases. It’s not just about the taste, it’s about the nutrition.
You can also make up for the lysine and tryptophan by eating corn with legumes (hence the classic corn-and-beans combo) or rice.

As I have already mentioned, this recipe did not come together all that easily (understatement of the year), but I am quite pleased with the final result; a moist, rich, savory cake, beautifully golden and studded with black quinoa, green cilantro and red chilies. Soooo pretty. If you cannot find black quinoa, use whatever kind you have on hand – this recipe is actually the perfect way to use up leftover quinoa from last night’s dinner!
Don’t forgo the chia seeds – they are a key ingredient here, as they act as the binder in place of eggs. If you don’t have chia seeds on hand and you would like to use eggs instead, 2 would be sufficient. Happy baking…and please let me know how they turn out for you!

Black Quinoa Corn Muffins
Ingredients:
1 cup organic corn meal
¼ cup organic corn flour
1 cup cooked black quinoa (any colour will work)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup almond milk (or any milk)
3 Tbsp. chia seeds + 9 Tbsp. water
1/4 up high oleic sunflower oil (or oil of your choice)
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 chili, minced or ½ tsp. ground chipotle (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Put 8 muffin liners in a cupcake pan.
1. Mix chia seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Add the cooked quinoa.
3. Check the chia gel to make sure it is thick a gloppy (it should take 15 minutes or so to obtain the right consistency). In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together, including the chia gel.
4. Add the wet to the dry and combine in as few strokes as possible. Fold in the cilantro and minced chili.
5. Spoon batter in to muffins cups and bake until the edges are golden brown and they pass the toothpick test (approx. 25 minutes).

Remember last month when I posted that awesome black bean and sweet potato soup recipe? Yeah. I mentioned that it would taste really good alongside some cornbread, and this is the very recipe I was “working the kinks out of”. This means that you need to make black bean soup immediately. They are best friends. Please let them play together.

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