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Health Food of the month - Polenta

August 2020

Polenta cakes
Polenta can be used in sweet and savoury dishes

Previous Health Foods of the Month...





Diet & Supplements Index

It would be interesting to walk into a supermarket of our childhood…I think we would be surprised that many of the items that we take for granted today simply weren’t available just a couple of decades or more ago.

One new item that our parents wouldn’t have had a clue about is polenta. It has been slowly appearing on more and more supermarket shelves as well as in health stores  and is gradually creeping into our everyday meals.

Polenta comes from northern Italy. The word probably comes from the Latin word of polenta which means any hulled and crushed grain. Originally polenta was made from starchy foods such as spelt and chickpeas, grained into a fine flour and used for a variety of meals. However, when maize started becoming popular, polenta made from maize (or American corn) started to take over.

Today modern polenta is almost entirely made from yellow corn which has been coarsely ground. It is this coarseness that gives an authentic touch to many dishes although today there are also smoother ground versions available. In America, ground corn is known as grits.

Polenta can take a long time to cook, simmering in water for an hour or more; but many people now rely on pre-cooked polenta which is becoming more and more readily available. This usually comes in a firm block ready to be cut. Once cooked, polenta is incredibly versatile and can be a great addition to a number of meals. It can be served as a sort of mash with a main meal or allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf when it can be sliced and baked, grilled or even fried as chips.

It is quite common now to add flavourings to polenta, including cheese or herbs depending on what you are serving it with. It can also be used as a coating for perhaps chicken, a base for a savoury tart or even used in cake making.

Nutrition wise, polenta is a useful addition to a diet. For an average serving of around one cup or 240 grams, polenta offers around 5g of protein and useful levels of vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. It also includes 11g of fat, of which around half is saturated fat, and around 197 calories.

There are lots of good recipe ideas on line for this versatile food, including at:


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