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Delicious and nutritious: corn – summer’s candy

corn

Zea mays. Maize. Maiz.

All of these terms refer to what we typically call corn. There is perhaps no other food that says ‘summer’ like fresh corn on the cob.

Aside from being delicious, corn has a very important role in the history of the Americas, especially in Mesoamerica, the region that is now known as Mexico and Central America. It was also an integral part of Native American history and cuisine. Although corn is not so much revered as a sacred food today, it is still common in our modern diet. American farmers grow about 40 percent of all corn that is consumed. Much of this comes from the ‘corn belt,’ the region made up of Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and parts of Kansas, Missouri and the Dakotas.

Corn comes in varieties of yellow, white, red, pink, black, purple and blue. No matter what color it is, corn contains antioxidants such as carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants are substances found in plant foods that help repair the cellular damage that occurs due to environmental pollutants and normal wear and tear of our bodies. They are in effect the “anti-rusting” agents for our cells.

Corn is also an excellent source of fiber, providing an estimated four to five grams of fiber per cup. In addition, it contains vitamins such as B1, B5 and folic acid and has about five to six grams of protein per cup.

Aside from being nutritious, corn is also versatile! It can be steamed and eaten right off the cob or grilled, roasted or included in soups and stews. It can top salads, be ground up and made into tortillas or creamed corn. It can be popped and enjoyed as a snack in the ever popular popcorn that we enjoy so much.

I enjoy eating corn on the cob with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper. How do you enjoy eating/preparing corn?

Hydrate with Color

It’s hot outside, so make sure to stay hydrated this summer. Add fresh fruit to your water for a unique flavor burst. Fill up pitchers of ice water and flavor it with fresh, in-season fruit, such as peach slices and raspberries.

You can also try slices of apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, lemons or limes. Feel free to add a handful of mint leaves or cucumbers for a refreshing taste that’s not as sweet.

Adding single-serve flavor packets may also add sugars, calories and other additives. Opt for flavoring your water naturally.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water in relation to their weight. Grapefruit, watermelon and strawberries have a high percentage of water. So do cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini and celery. Eat plenty of these on warm summer days. Continue Reading »

Healthy barbecuing tips

Everyone loves a good barbecue in the summer, but grill outs can quickly turn into unhealthy meals. However, there are ways to make a barbecue a healthy meal.

If you are planning to grill meats, choose a healthier meat option such as lean or extra lean ground turkey; ground sirloin beef; boneless, skinless chicken breast; salmon, cod or Mahi-Mahi; or lean or extra lean steak. If you’re making burgers, try layering tomatoes, lettuce and onion or other vegetables. Try making kabobs by combining pieces of fish and fruit or shrimp and vegetables.

Consider a meatless grilled meal by focusing on vegetables. Since cholesterol is only found in animal products, by choosing a meatless option you will reduce the intake of dietary cholesterol. You can also opt for a black bean burger or other patties made from legumes.

You can colorize your grilled meal by grilling vegetables. Cut vegetables in equal sizes so all pieces cook evenly. To help prevent sticking and to enhance flavor, you can lightly drizzle the vegetables in olive oil prior to grilling. Many vegetables do well on the grill, but some that stand out include asparagus, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions or cabbage. Try grilling a quartered fennel bulb for a unique taste. Continue Reading »

Fireworks Safety

Ooooooooooh! Aaaaaaaaaaah! Summer is in full swing, which means Fourth of July fireworks aren’t far away. While driving this past weekend, I was astonished by the number of billboards advertising fireworks. Little did I know, consumer firework consumption has increased by 920 percent since 1976. When it comes to my family and I, I’ve always left fireworks to the professionals since this is the best way to stay safe. It is estimated there are nearly 10,000 firework-related injuries requiring emergency room visits every year. Common sense dictates many of the firework safety precautions. Here is a nice safety test to review before using fireworks:

Questions: http://www.fireworkssafety.org/test.pdf

Answers: http://www.fireworkssafety.org/answers.pdf

Continue Reading »

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