Savory Cornbread, the P.K. Way

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Adding diced vegetables makes a tastier, healthier, and prettier cornbread.

I love corn, in all its forms. From corn-on-the-cob to tortilla soup to a spicy corn and kale sauté and everything in between. Not to mention creamy polenta, which is fabulous with seared tuna puttanesca. The list goes on.

Not surprisingly, I also adore the sweeter side of corn, like corn pudding, cornbread, and corn muffins. These are foods I eat quite infrequently, as they tend to be high in sugar, saturated fat, and calories. However, I developed a craving following the incessant tweets about it for the Super Bowl last week, and when I couldn’t even remember the last time I made cornbread I decided to scope out a good recipe to accompany my chili. (Moderation, my friends. Moderation.)

I poked around and selected this one for a few reasons. First, it had less sugar than many recipes, just half a cup in total. I also liked its combination of honey (for moisture and flavor) and sugar (for lightness and texture). As well, this recipe called for vegetable oil, a healthy polyunsaturated fat, rather than butter. In addition to swapping non-heated skim milk for whole (which worked out just fine), I also made two important modifications, below.

1. Added vegetables. To boost the nutrition and piquancy of the bread, I folded in two kinds of peppers (poblano and red) and corn kernels. My husband and I love the subtle touch of heat the poblano brings; I’ve also used jalapeños for more fire. The veggies make the cornbread really pretty, too. (Toss the veggies in the flour mixture before adding the liquid to ensure they don’t sink to the the bottom of the batter.)

2. Made it mini. Normally I’d split the recipe in half and make just one small loaf for our household of two to keep the moderation, er, moderate. Or make a full bread and freeze half. In this case, I thought about my marathon training schedule—in other words, my higher than normal energy expenditure—and decided to bake one mini savory loaf and six mini muffins (discussed tomorrow) for a special pre/post run treat.

This cornbread was terrific: incredibly moist, not at all crumbly or dry, and just the right amount of sweetness and heat. A perfect complement to chili.

And not too shabby on its own, either.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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