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Polenta: An Inexpensive, Nutritious Carbo Delivery System

Polenta: An Inexpensive, Nutritious Carbo Delivery System

Polenta

Many people have made the choice to change their diets, either because of medical reasons or because they want you to get back into shape. Whenever you want to get in the right shape, you have to pay attention to what you eat. Certain food can help you boost your immune system and others can give you the perfect fuel when you’re trying to get a beach-ready body. 

Naturally, your body will need the right food when you’re exercising and working out. Unfortunately, you can’t just stuff yourself with delicious lugaw or pork sinigang and expect to meet your fitness goals. You need to find the right food to keep yourself healthy.

You should consider cooking polenta, a Northern Italian dish that could be the food you’re looking for. 

What is Polenta?

orange corn kernels
Authentic polenta is made from an Italian heirloom corn variety called otto file or eight-row flint in English, which has a nutritious earthy flavor. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Polenta is a grain dish that hails from the northern and central portions of Italy. It’s usually made from cornmeal, but it’s sometimes made with other grains like buckwheat or maize. Polenta is an extremely versatile dish that can be prepared and served in a number of ways. The basic way polenta is prepared is by boiling the cornmeal in water, essentially making a pudding akin to mashed potato or grits. 

Some cooks like making their polenta a little gritty and adding coarse ingredients for texture. Some add cream to the water and use blenders to make the dish extremely smooth. It all depends on your personal taste. 

If you want to replicate the dish in the Philippines, you may have trouble finding grains like buckwheat. Luckily, cornmeal is abundant in the country and you can use that for this dish.

How Healthy is Polenta?

tomato meat sauce
Image by Sian Rose from Pixabay

You may be wondering why polenta is heralded as a healthy way to get your daily dose of carbohydrates. That’s because a cup of polenta, made from only cornmeal and water, only contains approximately 80 calories. 

It also has less than one gram of fat while containing 17 grams of carbohydrates. It will also have about 9 grams of fiber, which can help clean your body’s digestive tract.

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Compare this to a cup of rice. A serving of rice of that size contains 200 calories, a whopping size considering that rice is a side dish and served with viands. If you substitute one cup of polenta for an equal amount of rice during any meal, you could decrease your calorie intake by 120 calories. Because they will be the same portion size, you will have the same satiation but with less calories.

Polenta made entirely out of cornmeal will also have the added benefit of being gluten-free. This can mean a lot of difference if you have a gluten allergy or avoiding the substance as part of a diet regimen. 

How Can You Make Polenta Tastier?

Creamy Polenta with Chili Lime Shrimp
Make polenta more palatable with some delicious chili lime shrimp. Photo from Slow Cooker Gourmet on Pinterest

Polenta is a simple dish at heart, with only cornmeal and hot water as the key ingredients. However, Italian cuisine is never one to fail to show off and you can make your polenta as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. Polenta can even be served as a smooth slurry like mashed potatoes or patted into patties and baked into pucks. The following are some ways you can make polenta more interesting and how you can elevate this provincial dish into restaurant quality food.

  • Salt and Pepper. The simplest way you can make polenta more delicious is playing with its flavors through salt and pepper. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a pinch of salt and a generous twist of freshly ground black pepper can make to polenta. 
  • Cheesy Corn. Polenta can also be made more interesting by adding some of the saltier Italian cheeses to the mix. After you’ve boiled the cornmeal with the hot water, remove the polenta from the fire and sprinkle it liberally with parmesan for a sharp, salty flavor. If you want to make it chewier, you can mix in grated mozzarella to the polenta after you remove it from the pot and let its heat melt the cheese.
  • Seafood. Another way you can make polenta more delicious is by adding shrimp. After you’ve cooked the polenta, add some chopped chives into the mush and stir for added flavor. In a separate pan, cook some shelled and deveined shrimp in olive oil with some crushed garlic and more chives. Slide these delicious shrimps on top of the polenta after it’s cooked. 

Polenta may seem deceptively simple, but not only is it a nutritious meal and a great source of carbohydrates, it’s also very delicious. So if you want to make a delicious addition to your menu, try some nice polenta. 

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