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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Exploring the wonderful world of polenta

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corser

In past weeks I explored risotto and grits.

The last of the trio is polenta. With polenta being a cornmeal porridge, it has the capacity to be served with many different dishes, from breakfast to dinner.

Iitaly.com gives us a history about this unique grain:

“Polenta is a foodstuff with rustic origins. It is made by mixing cornmeal (which explains why polenta is often called yellow flour) with water and salt in a large pot called a paiolo in Italian or on a cutting board where, if it is sufficiently consistent, it is cut into slices.Polenta as we know it dates all the way back to the age of Columbus, when the European explorer returned from America bearing corn, or maize, today widely used for purposes other than nutrition.Prior to that, The plant was unknown in Europe.Columbus informed Europeans that the Native Americans made the dish by adding water to cornmeal and serving it with various sauces, cheeses and fresh meat.Over time Europeans discovered that the plant was easy to grow, especially in Southern Italy .Furthermore, cultivating it was cheap.That explains why it was consumed by the lowest classes, ie, by farmers and peasants.Polenta can be found throughout Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli, where it is served as a side dish or in place of bread. It can also be served as a main course, in which case it is dressed with thick sauces, game, sausage, milk and codfish, or fried and sliced, or rolled into gnocchi. Polenta shouldn’t be seen as deadly for dieting: you can eat your fill without consuming too many calories. The real problem is that it is often served with heavy sauces and condiments.”

There are several kinds of flours with a wide variety of grain sizes. What kind you use significantly affects the final dish. Cornmeal is most often associated with polenta, but can also be used for preparing pies, crepes, pasta and sweets. The various kinds are as follows:

Bramata: is the classic rustic corn flour. It is hard and coarsely ground. Ideal for polenta. You can tell Bramata apart simply by running your fingers over it. It is the most common type of polenta. Its characteristic yellow color comes from carotenoids.

Fioretto: finer than Bramata, is also used for making polenta. It is smoother and less coarse than the latter, and therefore better suited for making side dishes.

fumetto: is the finest confectionary corn flour produced with innovative milling machinery. Because it is easy to knead, it is used to make pasta, cake, cookies and other traditional products.

integrals: is cornmeal that has not been sifted but simply underwent an initial milling. Integrale contains all of the outer parts of the grain, ie, the bran.

The best illustration I can give to the reader is to first feature a basic polenta recipe and then a few enhanced recipes featuring this grain plus other ingredients that create many fabulous meal combinations.

To work in our home kitchens is a very satisfying experience, and gives the cook great ideas for future dishes.

American actress Debi Mazar says this about our earthly grain:

“I’d love to give my girls a traditional Thanksgiving with turkey and all that jazz, but we’ve raised them to love Tuscan food so much that they don’t care for it. My favorite is a nice polenta with beef stew and broccoli rabe on the side.”

As always, I could not agree more!

Jacqueline Iannazzo-Corser is a contributing writer to The Monroe News, writing about food and recipes. She is a chef, co-owner of Public House and an adjunct professor of culinary arts at Monroe County Community College. You can be reached at jcorser@monroeccc.edu.

Basic polenta

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

· 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal

· 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

· 6 cups of water

· 2 teaspoons of salt

Directions:

· Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a Saucepan.

Add 2 tsp. of salt.

Slowly whisk in the cornmeal.

· Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens.

· Stir continuously approximately 12 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

Add the butter stirred until melted.

Note: You can add Parmigiano Cheese and pepper to taste. You can also pour contents into a baking dish. If baking set oven at 450 degrees and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, when cooled cut into squares. The color of the polenta when baked will not change.

Beans and sausage with polenta

Serves 5 to 6

Ingredients:

· 2 can chicken broth or stock

· 1 c. yellow cornmeal

· 1/4 c. Grated parmesan

· 1 lb. Italian bulk sausage

1 small sweet onion

· 2 medium zucchini

· 1 can of crushed tomatoes

1 can Cannellini Beans, Great Northern Beans, or Butter Beans

Directions for the polenta:

Add water to chicken broth or stock to make 4 cups

· Bring to a boil in a saucepan.

· Lightly sprinkle in cornmeal gradually whisking.

Reduce heat to simmer

Cook while stirring for 6 to 7 minutes until the consistency is thick.

· Stir in Parmesan, cover and let stand to thicken.

· In a separate pan cook sausage on low to medium breaking up the meat until cooked, drain any fat off.

· Add onions and zucchini; cook until zucchini is just tender.

Stir in tomatoes and beans

Cook mixture covered for 1 minute and uncovered for an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until hot. Remember cooking times may vary.

·Note: The mixture should be slightly thick when completed. If you desire use a variety of different beans. I drain fat on paper towels I find this effective to eliminate excess grease.

Polenta and squash

(Make one day eat the next)

Serves 12 to 14

Ingredients:

· 1 tbsp. kosher salt

· 1 cup of polenta

1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeds removed, cut into small squares

2 cups whole or 2% milk

· ¼ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg or purchase in jar ground

· 1½ oz. Grated parmesan

· ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

· 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

· ¾ cup sage leaves fresh or freeze dried in jar

· ½ lb. Fontina cheese shredded

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F

· Combine 1 tbsp. salt and 6 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil.

Gradually whisk in polenta, then cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until polenta just begins to thicken, about 6 to 7 minutes.

· Stir in squash, reduce heat to medium-low heat for up to 20 minutes.

· Continue stir the polenta and mashing the squash to combine the mixture into one creamy mixture

Mix in milk and nutmeg

Remove from heat when hot and creamy.

· Stir in Parmesan and ¼ cup butter until melted

· Let cool somewhat off stove.

· In an additional pan heat oil over a low to medium heat.

· Add the sage and cook stirring just until leaves are lightly crisped and darker in color, about 1 minute or less.

· Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

· Grease a shallow 3-qt. baking dish with butter and transfer the polenta mixture to baking dish.

· Place the Fontina cheese over and press down lightly with spoon to submerge it into the mixture. Top with crisped sage.

· Let the dish cool to room temperature, then cover and chill overnight.

· The next day uncover dish and bake casserole until bubbly and lightly browned on top, 30-35 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I prefer sage leaves but if unavailable use the jarred product found in the spices. Also, when mashing the squash, you can use the back of a spoon while stirring. Serve with a crispy salad.

Easy & Sweet Lemony Polenta Pudding

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

· 1 cup of stone-ground cornmeal

· 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

· 2 large eggs

2 egg whites

· 1 cup sugar

· 1/4 cup olive oil

· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup whole milk

· 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest

· 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

· Powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

· Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly brush the bottom and sides of the pan with oil or spray.

· Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

· Beat the eggs, egg whites and sugar in a mixer on medium to high speed 4-5 minutes, until creamy.

On the low speed, mix in the oil. butter, milk, lemon zest and juice.

· Stir in the dry ingredients and blend.

· Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 – 40 minutes, or until the top feels firm.

· Using a toothpick inserted in the center of cake until the stick is clean.

· Cool in the pan 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack or platter to cool. Remember to loosen the cake sides.

Sift powdered sugar over the cake and serve.

Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Expert’s nutrition tips for runners

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Running is a very popular sport, thanks to its simplicity and many health and fitness benefits. It’s versatile and inexpensive, requires very little equipment, and it’s an excellent way to strengthen your cardiovascular health.

Nutrition plays an important part in optimum running performance. pexels

With the competitive nature of the sport, runners continuously challenge themselves and each other to improve. In addition to training, proper fuel for the body is vital for peak sports performance.

Noted medical and nutrition specialist Dr. Korakod Panich provided the five best nutrients for optimal running performance.

Nutrition is important for runners because it plays a vital role in overall health and can also support performance. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these five key nutrients:

1. Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates—which can be found in food such as fruits, dairy products, and starches such as rice, bread, and pasta—are the most important source of energy for the body.

For runners, a small meal, taken an hour before running, consisting of carbohydrates and a bit of protein can provide the energy needed to run effectively. A smoothie made with milk and fruit, or some yogurt topped with berries, provides the nutrients needed and is easily digested before a workout.

Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before exercising can help you maximize your workout.

2. Protein
Protein—found in meat, milk, eggs, and soy—helps repair and rebuild tissues and muscles that could be affected during physical activities. With the proper amount of protein and adequate sleep, muscles repair, rebuild, and become stronger.

Soy is a good protein source as it is one of the few complete plant-based proteins containing all of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Runners should consume a combination of carbs and protein 30 to 45 minutes after exercising.

Carb to protein ratio should be 2-3:1, with 20 grams of high-quality protein after a workout and between 40 and 60 grams of carbohydrate. A sandwich on whole-grain bread with a piece of fruit or a high-protein recovery shake would fill the bill.

3.Fat
Fat serves as an essential energy source. It is often used as fuel, particularly during moderate-intensity exercise that lasts for an extended period, such as a moderate jog lasting at least 30 minutes or so. The body will utilize more fat than carbohydrate for fuel in an attempt to conserve carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscles.

Choose beneficial fats—such as those found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts—and avoid saturated fats¬¬that can raise the risk of heart disease. This means staying away from fatty red meats, and ultra-processed foods, such as fast food or bakery items.

4. Vitamins and minerals
There are different kinds of vitamins and minerals that help maintain the balance in body system functions; fruits and vegetables are the best sources to obtain them. During exercise, the body excretes waste in the form of sweat, which also removes important minerals from the body. If you opt to exercise for more than one hour, energy and mineral drinks are highly recommended to replace lost fluids and minerals.

5.Water
The human body is made up of 70 percent water, which is why staying hydrated is crucial. Water helps deliver nutrients to the cells and plays a significant role in eliminating waste. Runners need to maintain body water balance before, during, and after workouts because water provides nourishment that the body needs for almost every single function. It also helps limit changes in body temperature.

Make sure not to lose more than two percent of your body weight in fluids during exercise, as it can reduce your strength and affect performance. If you exercise regularly, check your weight before and after a workout to keep track of water loss and be sure to replace those losses. For every pound of weight lost during exercise, replace with 2-3 cups of fluid (or 1 liter of fluid for every kilogram lost during exercise).

Nutrition and running style

Aside from understanding the importance of nutrients, it is also essential for new runners to learn the proper way to run. Running not just makes our bodies stronger; it also helps burn calories and fat, depending on the goal.

If you have little time and would like to burn calories and fat, you can do interval training, which alternates short work intervals (80-90 percent of maximum heart rate for 30-60 seconds) with rest periods (50 percent of maximum heart rate for 1-2 minutes). This helps improve circulation and enable the heart to pump blood and make it healthier while strengthening the muscles.

If your main aim is to burn fat, and you have some time, you can run slowly to raise your heart rate to 40-60 percent of your maximum, for at least 45-60 minutes.

Korakod Panich is a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Weekly Spotlight: Make the Perfect Spring Vegan Pasta Salad!

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Pasta salad is a wonderful spring meal, plus it’s a wonderful plant-based meal that can easily be veganized! It’s a meal that you can add any veggie that you want to, making it super versatile for this time of year. When spring produces like arugula, garlic and some herbs are hitting their peak season, you might have extra veggies on hand or are looking for a way to clear out some veggies from your fridge. Pasta salad is also easy to whip up, and you can either do a simple dressing or a more involved creamy dressing to top it.

Depending on your time and how you want to enjoy your pasta salad, this guide splits pasta salad recipes depending on their sauce base. The simple oil and garlic type dressings are lighter in flavor, allowing whatever you hand (veggies or herbs) to stand out in your final pasta salad. However, if you’re looking for a creamier and more hands-on homemade dressing, we’ve got you covered too! These are topped with a dressing that uses a base of tahini, tofu, or even hemp seeds to create a delicious creamy dressing. The last group focuses on taking a traditional pasta salad adding a twist, like a clever flavor or mixing up the base grain!

We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster app — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Weekly Meal Plan Archives!

Are you ready to have a week full of delicious, high-protein, whole-food vegan food that leaves you nourished and content? Let’s get started!

This week, we’re bringing delicious pasta salad recipes that are fully vegan and plant-based!

Pasta Salads that Use a Mayo, Sour Cream, or Simple Oil Dressing:

Vegan Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

Source: Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

These quick pasta salads are great to throw together for the week! Their light dressing makes it excellent to eat on its own to get a variety of simple flavors and enjoy the fresher crunch of the veggies in these dishes.

Pasta Salads that Use a Tofu, Tahini, Homemade, or Cashew Based Dressing

Vegan Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

Source: Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

These creamy pasta salads are excellent to enjoy on their own, or if you’re looking to add even more veggies, you could enjoy these over a base of greens for an extra crunch of texture! There are so many ways to make a creamy pasta salad with vegan ingredients; you could use cashews, tofu, tahini, or even hemp hearts to get a creamy sauce.

Pasta Salads that Are a Twist on a Classic Dish:

Vegan Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Source: Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Cacio e Pepe as a pasta salad? Using orzo instead of pasta? There are so many ways to change up the flavors and inspiration you use for your pasta salads. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy a new way of eating pasta salad, this is your list right here!

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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, good health other more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster app which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental other health benefits of a plant based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Food Therapist Debunks Myths About Veganism

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Veganism is a lifestyle that is based on the ideology that humans should not exploit animals or the environment for their needs. Vegans refrain from utilizing any kind of animal products for food, clothing, or work, among other things, and they do not differentiate between any species as they consider all animals equal. Simply put, veganism is the practice of avoiding the use of any animal products—particularly in our diet—including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Myths about veganism

Additionally, there are countless myths, misconceptions, and assumptions about being vegan from all corners. We got Nidhi Nahata—Founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bangalore, and food therapist—to debunk a few common floating speculations.

1. Milk has a lot of calcium

Credit: iStock

There is an existing misconception that only cow milk contains calcium. So, what is the optimal source of calcium? Like plenty of other nutrients, calcium is readily available in a variety of plant-based foods that are better absorbed by the body than dairy. Think broccoli, cabbage, kale, almonds, chia, beans, pulses, leafy vegetables, and more. Therefore, even if you are not vegan, having a wide range of calcium sources in your diet can be a healthier option.

2. Animal protein is more important than plant protein

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Incidentally, the animals that are consumed for so-called protein are fed on a plant based diet, which basically means that we are consuming the same and/or processed protein through dead tissues or extracted produce from an animal. For those on the lookout for plant-based protein sources, there are plenty of options like soya, lentils, pulses, broccoli, seaweed, peas, spinach, beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, peanuts, cashews, almonds , pistachios, walnuts, oats, and seitan tofu.

3. Vegans have B12 deficiency

Vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians—all could have deficiency because of vitamin B12, which is a bacteria found in nature. The sources of vitamin B12 are commonly questioned in reference to being vegan, since the most common source is assumed to be animals and animal products. But the reality is that vegans can achieve the intake needed through reliable sources, such as supplements or fortified foods.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Vitamin B12 is produced by certain microorganisms and is processed while consuming cobalt from a plant base. However, our modern day agriculture prevents these nutrients to be transferred into our bodies through either sources-–animals or plants. Therefore, vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians need to normally be given cobalt or B12 supplements to attain suitable levels regardless of their dietary preference.

4. Vegan lifestyle is very expensive

food item
Credit: iStock

The limited accessibility to vegan food and alternatives is one of the biggest restrictive misconnects prevalent in our society. The reality is that, similar to any diet, plant-based eating is only expensive if there are a lot of quick-to-eat processed foods, readymade meal preps, and products from vegan-specific brands. There are plenty of vegan foods and ingredients that are affordable in India, especially if the diet is centered around cheaper foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, beans, and several others. Good planning can make vegan diet more affordable than the ones that include animal products.

5. Pregnant women need milk and dairy

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

“You cannot be vegan when pregnant” is a common misconception for soon-to-be vegan parents. The basic fact is that pregnancy is a challenge for the body, no matter what diet you are on and usually requires additional nutrients. It is advised to be closer to iron and vitamin B12, which can be attained on a vegan diet as well. The tradition of milk being one of the most integral components of our diet has been prevalent for decades. We need to be mindful and bring logical reasoning in choosing food for soon-to-be parents as well as children.

6. Soy increases the chances of breast cancer

  7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

There is no convincing evidence that eating soy-based food increases the risk of breast cancer in humans. This misunderstanding, however, might arise from earlier studies conducted on rodents. Scientists of this study showed that when these animals received large amounts of soy-compounds called flavones, they showed likelihood to develop breast cancer.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

A study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, in February 2020, searched associations between soy intake and breast cancer risk by following 52,795 cancer-free women in the US for an average of 7.9 years. In the results, they found no substantial association between soy intake and breast cancer, but they did identify a link between dairy (milk) and breast cancer.

Soy as an ingredient is loaded with fiber and is a good source of protein, omega 3, and antioxidants. Research also suggests that soy has a good amount of protein which is well absorbed by the body, and the best way to consume it is in bean form, tofu, tempeh, and other such forms.

7. Veganism is a cult

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Being compassionate and conscious can never be a cult. Veganism is a lifestyle that utilizes an ideology to bring people closer to their instincts. This means bringing us closer to eating what nature has designed and grown for us, rather than exploiting animals and other sentient beings.

Lead Image Credit: Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam Dhar, Instagram

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