These Green-Powered Grits Are A Southern RD's Dream
If I had to guess, I'd imagine grits aren't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of R.D.-approved grains, but for mbg's director of scientific affairs and registered dietitian Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, they're a perfectly suitable side dish or the start of a delicious meal.
"Grits are often a forgotten or regionalized grain option," she says, "which is too bad, since key varieties (stone ground) are, in fact, whole grains. I personally think grits deserve the limelight again and see it up there right beside other gluten-free grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice, etc."
Not actually sure what grits are? At their most simple, they're a porridge made from ground corn (or cornmeal), but when looking for the most nutrient-forward option, it's all about grabbing the stone-ground variety. "It's the cream of the crop because it's made from whole kernels of dried corn," explains Ferira. "In other words, the bran, germ, and endosperm are all intact. Practically, this means there's more nutrition delivered to your body, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals." Her favorite option is Palmetto Farms' stone-ground grits, which have the added bonus of being made from non-GMO corn.
A simple way to add more nutrients to this classic Southern dish.
"As a Southerner, grits have been a staple of my diet for as long as I can remember," says Ferira. "In addition to the delicious taste and satiating benefit of stone-ground grits, I find them to be a versatile grain for meals throughout the day, both savory and sweet."
Because they're so versatile, the ingredients you infuse can add other key nutrients to your meal. "As the base, a healthy protein addition is always complementary. I love adding seafood, especially shrimp, scallops, and salmon. It's a delectable combo with grits, but you also gain healthy omega-3 fats."
If you want to get creative and "infuse" more flavor and color into the grits, there's no limit to your creativity. Consider a berry-laden sweet grit, sun-dried tomatoes and red peppers for a red veggies infusion, or the goodness of green grits (with the help of organic veggies+, pesto, Brussels sprouts, and kale).
Below, exactly how to make those green grits she mentioned—because, seriously, how good do they sound?
Green Grits Goodness
Makes 4 to 6 servings
For the grits:
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 4 cups salted water (or your favorite stock or broth)
- 4 cups of your favorite leafy greens (prepared however you like)
For the pesto:
- ¼ cup roasted cashews
- 2 oz. nutritional yeast
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 cups basil leaves
- 2 Tbsp. mbg organic veggies+
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Make the grits: Place the grits and salted water (or stock) in a large saucepan. Cook on high and bring to a boil, stirring often. Cover and reduce to a simmer, and let them cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, add cashews, garlic, and nutritional yeast until finely ground, about 1 minute.
- Add the basil and mbg organic veggies+. Place the top back on with the motor running; add oil in a slow stream until pesto is blended but still with texture.
- Spoon the grits into dishes and swirl in a few spoonfuls of pesto. Top with your favorite cooked greens and season with salt to taste.
Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.