Too hot to cook? Grab some corn and start feasting

Fresh corn is at its peak between July and September for most of the United States – and since the kernels are at their sweetest and juiciest as soon as each ear is picked, now is the time to enjoy it. It doesn’t take much prep to make it taste amazing, so it’s one of the best foods to enjoy during a heat wave.

If you think corn has no nutritional value because it passes through you intact, it doesn’t, according to Julia Zumpano, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. “Corn is definitely good for you,” she confirmed, and “eating fresh corn on the cob will give you the most nutritional benefits.”

Much of corn’s reputation is misplaced. “It has a bad reputation for being high in sugar,” Zumpano said, but depending on the size, an ear of corn contains between 3 and 6 grams of sugar and around 100 to 110 calories. Also, when you eat corn, “a lot of the carbs aren’t necessarily digested or absorbed. That’s the joy of eating one carb and knowing you’re not digesting half of it.”

That’s because corn is a good source of fiber and “you can’t digest fiber, but it does help regulate bowel movements and limit constipation,” she said, while filling up between meals. Fiber has also been shown to “reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels” in various studies.

Corn is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, Zumpano said, and contains B vitamins as well as essential minerals such as magnesium and potassium.

Yellow corn is higher in antioxidants than white corn due to the pigments present in each kernel. Red, blue, or purple sweet corn has even more pigment, if you know of a home gardener or local farmer who grows these rarer varieties.

Cooking and preparing fresh corn

You can eat fresh corn raw or cook it in a number of ways: in the microwave, boiled on the stove, on the grill or over the fire. While each method has its adepts, I prefer grilling the corn in the unsoaked husk as it imparts a slight smoky flavor to the kernels without leaving them overcooked and gummy.
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To use corn in the recipes that follow, you will need to remove the kernels from the cob. There are corn peeling tools that can help you accomplish this task, but my favorite method uses two items already in the kitchen: a sharp paring knife and a large bowl.

Hold the corn vertically and stem side up in the bowl. Run the paring knife along each side of the corn, turning as you go, to remove the kernels. By using a small knife and a large bowl, you won’t hit the sides with your knife and the corn won’t bounce all over the place.

corn for breakfast

Of course, it’s the middle of summer. But if you can bear to turn on your oven, start your day with double corn muffins sprinkled with fresh corn and crispy polenta. Serve warm or at room temperature with honey butter and fresh summer berry jams.
Start the day with corn muffins.  You can serve them warm or at room temperature for breakfast.
Brunch can be sweet or savory with grilled corn pancakes. They pair well with fresh berries, Nutella, and whipped cream, but also pair well with salsa, scrambled eggs, and sour cream for a taco-esque breakfast.
The same goes for corn waffles and corn pancakes. Drizzle them with maple syrup or powdered sugar or use them as a base for savory toppings such as bacon, chopped green onions, chopped tomatoes and grated cheese.
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Corn for lunch and dinner

On the cob or on the cob? This is the difference between elote and esquites, the Mexican corn dish made with cotija cheese, cream and/or mayonnaise, chili powder and lime juice. The creamy, tangy and spicy flavors of this traditional snack lend themselves to adaptation in a host of other recipes. Whip up an elot-inspired soup, pasta salad, or even loaded tater tots.
For sweltering summer evenings, chilled corn soup does the trick. With a quick stovetop simmer, you won’t sweat bringing it together. Make it in the morning and let it cool for dinner later.
The Mexican corn dish elote includes corn on the cob with mayonnaise, lime juice and cheese.

When it comes to summer salads, corn vies with tomatoes for the title of most popular ingredient. It pairs well with almost any other ingredient in a variety of flavor profiles. Chances are a kitchen sink salad will go well with whatever you have on hand, but you can also take inspiration from these ideas:

  • Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Corn and Cornbread Croutons
  • Black bean and corn salad
  • Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Corn for dessert

Sweet corn is called that for a reason: it’s sweet enough to be used as an ingredient in baked goods beyond cornbread and muffins. But if you don’t feel ready to cook in the summer heat, use corn in cool, refreshing desserts.

A Thai pudding makes a refreshing dessert.  Here is corn sago with coconut milk.
Corn ice cream may sound weird, but the flavor is perfect for summer. New York ice cream shop Ample Hills ships its Corn to Run flavor nationwide, but you can also make homemade ice cream with your own local corn. This corn ice cream recipe features a caramel candied bacon topping that will make you feel like you’re at the state fair.
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Sweet corn pudding can be made Thai or Vietnamese style with tapioca or rice to thicken and flavor spoon puddings. In both variations, stripped corn cobs are simmered in water to infuse them with a delicate flavor before adding a starchy thickener, fresh corn kernels, sugar and coconut milk.

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