Cornmeal Objectives Participant will:

Cornmeal
Objectives
Participant will:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Explain a health benefit provided by eating whole-grain dried corn.
Describe how to purchase and store dried corn.
Describe how to cook dried corn.
Explain how to incorporate dried corn into family meals.
Prepare and taste food that includes dried corn.
Required Materials:
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Container or bag of whole dried corn.
Container or bag of fine-ground cornmeal to show class.
Container or bag of coarse-ground cornmeal to show class.
Container or bag of dried hominy to show class.
Ingredients and supplies needed to demonstrate and serve recipes (see pgs. 6-8).
Lesson handouts – enough for all class participants (see pgs. 6-8).
Required paperwork for program – enough for all class participants.
Optional Supplemental Materials:
Preparation Required:
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Study lesson and practice food demonstration.
Gather supplies and materials to demonstrate recipes (see pgs. 6-8).
Cook chicken with garlic and onion for Quick and Easy Chicken Pasole (see pg. 4).
Cook polenta ahead of class so it can be broiled during class (see pg. 4).
Pop at least 6 quarts of popcorn for three recipes – do not use prepackaged popcorn or added
oil – use air popper or paper bag in microwave (see pg. 4).
Make copies of handouts and required paperwork – enough for all participants.
1 LESSON PLAN
Introduction:
Time: 5 minutes
• Welcome the class and thank them for making time to come.
• Briefly introduce yourself and the program.
• Ask the class: What is the most widely used grain of the Western Hemisphere, is used not
only for livestock and human consumption, but also for the production of paper, textiles, paints,
explosives, and plastics and is the only grain that we eat both fresh and dried?
o Corn! Fresh corn is known as sweet corn and we usually think of it as a vegetable since it
has a recessive gene that keeps its sugar from turning to starch.
• There are four other varieties of corn and these are considered grains. Each has a different
use depending on its structure and composition:
o Field or dent corn – preferred in the south for hominy and grits – 90 percent of the field corn
grown is fed to livestock and it is the most common variety of corn grown today.
o Flint corn – preferred in the north for making johnnycakes and in Italy for polenta.
o Flour corn – this variety has a soft endosperm making it ideal for grinding into cornmeal or
corn flour.
o Popcorn – although any variety of corn will actually pop, popcorn has the most moisture
content so it pops the biggest and best.
Objective 1: Explain a health benefit provided by eating whole-grain dried corn.
Time: 2 minutes
• Ask the class: Can anyone guess from the color of corn, what vitamin it is high in?
• Corn is the only grain that has beta-carotene. The body turns beta-carotene to vitamin A. The
more yellow the corn, the more beta-carotene it has. White varieties have very little. Vitamin A
is necessary for good eyesight and it helps the body fight infection. Getting enough betacarotene is easy when we eat plenty of yellow and orange fruits, veggies … and corn.
Objective 2: Describe how to purchase and store dried corn.
Time: 5 minutes
• Just like most grains, you can buy cornmeal as a whole grain or as a refined one. Whole
grains contain the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Refined grains have been milled to
remove the outer covering or the bran and the germ where the oils and many nutrients are
contained, leaving only the endosperm. Removing the germ makes the grain more shelfstable because the germ contains oils which can go rancid, however some nutrition, and
especially in the case of corn, flavor is sacrificed. Corn that has the germ removed is called
degerminated corn. When possible always look for the whole grain. You may have to shop
around or go to a health food store but the nutrients and flavor will be well worth the effort.
• Ask the class: How many ways have you bought corn as a grain before?
• Whole field corn can be flint, dent, or flour corn. It is allowed to dry on the stalk. This
process allows the sugar in corn to be converted to starch. You buy this dried whole corn if
you want to grind it yourself. Usually the only place you can find whole field corn is in a
natural foods store or online. Whole corn can be stored for several years if kept in a cool,
dark, dry place.
• Corn meal, corn flour, and corn grits are only different because of particle size when they
are ground. You can find each as whole-grain corn or degerminated so watch the label if you
are looking for whole-grain corn. Freshly ground, whole cornmeal has the best, sweetest, full
flavor of corn. If whole cornmeal, flour, or grits have a bitter taste, it is a sign they are old and
rancid and should be thrown out.
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o Corn flour is ground as fine as whole-wheat flour and is best used for corn cakes and
cookies. FYI – cornstarch, a thickening agent made from corn, is called corn flour in the
United Kingdom. Don’t get the two confused!
o Cornmeal is more coarsely ground than corn flour. You can find fine ground, medium
ground, and course ground. The more course the grind, the more course the final product
in baking.
o Corn grits are the coarsest grind and are used as a cereal or porridge. You can get it as
whole or degerminated. The degerminated grits can also be found as quick cooking or
instant grits. Even though these may cook faster than whole corn grits, they lack the good
flavor of grits made from whole corn. (Note: Corn grits and hominy grits are not the same.
See hominy or posole below).
o Polenta is a bright yellow ground flint corn that has been imported from Italy. It is
available from fine to coarse grades. The coarse grade makes a firmer, more tasty
polenta. Unless otherwise noted, polenta is from de-germed corn so will last indefinitely
on the pantry shelf. You may be more familiar with this dish if we call it mush. Mush just
doesn’t sound as appealing as polenta but they really are about the same thing. Did you
know that from colonial times to the beginning of this century, mush was a breakfast staple
in most of the country? One reason we may not think of eating it now is that the
degerminated versions we find most often in the grocery store taste flat compared to the
whole-grain version eaten then. We will try polenta later in the lesson and you will be
delighted with this yummy staple found in Italy.
o Hominy or posole (pa-so-lee) is whole corn kernels that have the tough hull removed.
Native Americans found that by boiling the whole kernel with wood ash or lime they could
remove this tough hull from the corn kernel (think popped corn hulls getting stuck in your
teeth!) The hulled corn kernels are called posole or hominy depending on where you live.
The good news is that hulling by this method shortens the preparation time required to
cook the corn kernel and increases the calcium content by as much as 300 percent over
regular dried corn. The bad news it that it removes the germ. The hulled kernels are
allowed to dry and it is the ground hominy that we are most familiar with as hominy grits.
Note that hominy grits are not the same thing as corn grits, which have not been boiled to
remove the hull. Posole or hominy can be purchased dry, frozen, or canned. Although the
canned version is by far the easiest to use, the dry ones are worth the effort because they
taste so good.
 Posole should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place and will last for several years.
o Masa harina is a flour made from ground, dried masa. Masa means ‘dough’ in Spanish
and is made from posole. It is the base for corn tortillas and tamales.
o Whole-grain corn flour, cornmeal, and corn grits should be stored tightly wrapped in the
freezer for up to six months. Putting them in the fridge can cause condensation in the
packaging, which can lead to mold growth. Degerminated corn flour, meal, or grits can be
stored on the pantry shelf indefinitely.
Ask the class: Besides fresh corn on the cob, who thinks the best way to eat corn is
popped?
Ask the class: What do you do with popcorn that won’t pop?
Popcorn pops because of its high moisture content coming in contact with high heat. If your
popcorn isn’t popping anymore, try this: Add one teaspoon of water and two cups un-popped
corn to a jar and screw the lid on tight. Within a few days the popcorn should be rehydrated.
Storing popcorn in the freezer helps to keep the moisture in.
Popcorn comes in white, red, blue, and yellow varieties, with yellow being the most common.
Although there is a hint of difference in flavors of yellow vs. white vs. blue cornmeal, there
isn’t much difference in flavor between the colors of popped corn.
Ask the class: Can you think of other corn products we haven’t discussed?
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Corn is also grown to produce corn oil, corn syrup, and cornstarch. These products are so
deplete of nutrients and so high in empty calories that we will not discuss them in this lesson
except to note that they should occupy a very, very small space on the pantry shelf to be
used sparingly.
Objective 3: Describe how to cook dried corn.
Time: 10 minutes
• If one of your excuses for not using corn before was that you weren’t sure what to do with it,
you are in luck because we are going to learn how to cook about every variety of dried corn
you can think of. You will be amazed how easy it is!
• Dried whole field corn has such a tough outer hull that it is nearly impossible to cook it in its
whole state unless it is treated with wood-ash or lime to make hominy or posole. That is the
reason we buy and use corn all ground up as grits, cornmeal, or corn flour. Grits are the
coarsest grind and flour is the finest. Ground corn absorbs more water than other grains and
has a more crumbly texture.
• All it takes to cook grits, cornmeal, and flour is a pinch of salt and a little water.
o To cook grits and polenta, bring three cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Slowly stir
in a cup of grits or polenta, turn down the heat, and wait 20 - 30 minutes or so. Remember
to stir the pot often to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
o Cornmeal can be cooked similar to grits to make a mush but, like corn flour, is used more
often to make baked items like corn muffins and cornbread instead of the cakes and
cookies made with corn flour. The coarser the cornmeal, the more crumbly and coarse the
final product.
o Cooking posole from scratch takes a little effort but is worth the effort because the taste is
superior to canned hominy. To cook dried posole, first soak it in water overnight. Then
drain the posole and place it in a saucepan with fresh water. Gently simmer it until the
kernels are tender and they begin to split open. This takes two or three hours.
o Homemade corn tortillas are surprisingly easy to make and so good! To make a dozen
tortillas you just need two cups of masa harina, a pinch of salt, and about 1¼ cups of warm
water. Mix these all together into a dough, form 12 circles, let the dough rest for ten
minutes, then roll them out and cook them on a hot griddle.
o Do you think you need to buy your popcorn in pre-packaged bags full of ingredients you
can’t pronounce? All you really need is a brown paper lunch bag and a microwave oven.
Put ¼ cup of popcorn in the bag and microwave for three to five minutes. We will talk later
about some fun things to do with the popcorn.
Objectives 4 and 5: Explain how to incorporate dried corn into family meals.
Prepare and taste food that includes dried corn.
Time: 20 minutes
• Ask the class: Besides as a vegetable, how have you used corn in your meals before?
• Ask the class: Who has used posole before? How did you use it?
o Most cooks add it to soups and stews. FYI - Sometimes the stew made with posole is also
called posole. Canned hominy is a fine substitution when you are too short on time to cook
dried posole from scratch. Demonstrate Quick and Easy Chicken Posole (see recipe pg. 7)
using chicken previously cooked with garlic and onion. Let soup simmer while
demonstrating remaining recipes.
• Polenta – after cooking polenta, pour the mixture into a bowl and let it set for about 10 minutes.
It will mold to the shape of the bowl. Once it is set, you invert the bowl onto a plate and the
mold will hold its shape. At that point, you slice it and serve it hot with your favorite sauce. Or
you can grill, broil, or panfry it so that the outside is crispy and the inside is soft. Slice and broil
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previously cooked polenta (see recipe pg. 6). Serve with marinara sauce.
Grits are usually eaten as a cereal with milk and sweetener or as a side dish with salt and
butter. The leftovers can be used by pouring them into a bowl and making a mold. Then you
can make slices and broil, grill, or pan-fry (similar to polenta) them. Cook whole-grain grits
(see recipe pg. 6). Remember to stir pan occasionally. Serve with salt, pepper, and butter
and/or with milk and sugar.
Cornmeal is probably most famous for making muffins and cornbread. Demonstrate Corny
Cornbread (see recipe pg. 7).
Masa harina is used to make homemade corn tortillas or tamales. A healthy way to eat tortilla
chips is to make your own. Demonstrate Chili Tortilla Chips (see recipe pg. 7).
Looking for a healthy but tasty way to eat popcorn? You will be amazed at how delicious
these are – all without tons of butter and salt. Demonstrate Chili Lime Popcorn, Dilly Lemon
Popcorn, and Tex-Mex Popcorn (see recipes pg. 8).
Conclusion: Summary
Time: 2-3 minutes
• Not only is corn one of the oldest, most nutritious, and most abundant grains on the planet, but
as you can see, it is one of the most versatile grains, too.
• Are there any questions about today’s lesson?
• Let participants taste prepared recipes.
• Thank class for coming.
References:
Bittman M. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Hoboken, NJ. Double B Publishing, Inc. 2007.
Wood R. The Splendid Grain: Robust, Inspired Recipes for Grains with Vegetables, Fish, Poultry,
Meat, and Fruit. New York, NY. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1997.
Wood R. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY. Penguin Books. 2010.
Sass L. Whole Grains: Every Day Every Way. New York, NY. Random House. 2006.
Mayo Clinic, University of California, Dole Foods, Inc. Encyclopedia of Foods. A Guide to Healthy
Nutrition. Academic Press. San Diego, CA. 2002.
The Popcorn Board. Available at http://www.popcorn.org/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx. Accessed
June 8, 2011.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you
buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-221-5689 or visit online at
http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/. In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this
institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political
beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400
Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800)795-3572.
5 Cooking Dried Corn Products
Grits/Cornmeal/Polenta
3 ½ cups water
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole corn grits, cornmeal, or polenta
Bring water and salt to a boil over high heat. Slowly stir in corn grits,
cornmeal, or polenta and reduce heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, 20 – 30
minutes or until product is tender and pulls away from the sides of the pan
when stirred.
Eat ground wholegrain corn products
within a few months
or store them in the
freezer to prevent
them from going
rancid.
Degerminated
ground corn can be
stored in the pantry
for several years.
For grits and cornmeal – serve immediately with milk and sugar as a
breakfast food or with butter and salt as a side dish.
For polenta – pour hot polenta into bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Let sit 10 minutes. Invert bowl
onto plate and slice. Serve hot with your favorite sauce and/or grated Parmesan cheese or chill for
later use. Reheat by brushing with oil and broiling or grilling 5 – 7 minutes per side or until tops and
bottoms are bubbly and begin to brown. You may also reheat by brushing with oil and heating in a
skillet on the stovetop. The polenta should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Yield: 4 servings.
Homemade Corn Tortillas
2 cups masa harina
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups warm water
Put masa harina and salt in a mixing bowl. Add warm water and knead for a few minutes until dough
forms a smooth ball that doesn’t stick to your hands. It should be moist and pliable. Form 12 balls,
cover with plastic wrap or clean towel, and let rest 5 – 10 minutes. Roll each ball into 6-inch circle. If
dough sticks to rolling pin, try rolling balls between 2 sheets of wax paper. Peel tortilla gently from
wax paper and cook in hot, ungreased skillet for 30 seconds. Turn over and cook 1 – 2 minutes
more. Let tortillas rest 15 minutes after cooking to become soft and pliable.
Posole (Hominy)
Place dried posole in heavy pan and cover with water. Soak overnight. Rinse, cover posole with fresh
water, and cook 2 – 3 hours or until tender. Cooked posole can be added to soups, stews, salads,
etc.
Freshly ground, whole cornmeal has the best, sweetest, full flavor of corn.
If whole cornmeal, flour, or grits have a bitter taste, it is a sign they are old and rancid and
should be thrown out.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-221-5689
or visit online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/. In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited
from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or
disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400
Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800)795-3572.
6 Dried Corn Recipes
From cornbread to popcorn and everything in between - these delicious recipes are a great way to
get corn on the family menu!
Quick and Easy Chicken Posole
2 chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 (15 oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 (4 oz.) can green chilies
2 (15 oz.) cans stewed tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed
2 (15 oz.) cans hominy or 3-4 cups cooked
posole
1 tablespoon oregano
Chili powder to taste
In large, heavy pot, brown chicken with onion and garlic in oil. Add remaining ingredients and bring to
a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Yield: 6-8 servings.
Corny Cornbread
2 cups whole-grain cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup creamed corn
Preheat oven to 400º. In medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal, salt, sugar, baking powder, and
baking soda. In large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn. Add dry
ingredients to buttermilk mixture and stir gently to combine. Do not overstir. Pour batter into 9x9 pan
sprayed with cooking spray and bake 20 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown on top and
inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Yield: 8 servings
Chili Tortilla Chips
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
½ - 1 teaspoons chili powder
1 dozen corn tortillas, purchased or homemade
Preheat oven to 375º. Combine water, salt, and chili powder in small
bowl. With pastry brush, lightly brush each tortilla with water-chili
mixture then cut into quarters. Place quartered tortillas on ungreased
baking sheet in single layer. Bake 10 – 15 minutes or until chips are
crisp. Cool and serve.
If you love tortilla chips,
you will love these!
They are a healthy way
to eat chips since they
are baked instead of
fried.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-221-5689
or visit online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/. In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited
from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or
disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400
Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800)795-3572.
7 Popcorn – the funnest way to eat whole grains!
Chili Lime Popcorn
2 quarts popped popcorn
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300° F. Spread popcorn on a baking sheet. Sprinkle lime juice, chili powder, and
salt over popcorn. Heat about 7 minutes and toss just before serving. Serve warm.
Dilly Lemon Popcorn
2 quarts popcorn popped
2 tablespoons shredded lemon peel
1 teaspoon dill weed
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium salt
Toss popcorn with lemon peel and dill weed. Flavor enhances as popcorn stands.
Tex-Mex Popcorn
2 quarts popcorn popped
2 teaspoons ground chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Butter-flavored cooking spray
In a small bowl, combine all seasonings together. Put popped popcorn in a large bowl and spray
lightly with butter-flavored cooking spray. Add spices to popcorn and mix thoroughly until all kernels
are coated.
Popcorn won’t pop? Maybe it has lost its moisture content. Try putting 2 cups of unpopped popcorn in a jar with 1 teaspoon of water. Screw the lid on tight and wait a
few days.
The water will re-hydrate the popcorn and it will be popping again!
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-221-5689
or visit online at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/. In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited
from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write
USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800)795-3572.
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