Nothing is more quintessentially summer than corn on the cob! As the perfect mild and sweet canvas for a range of flavors, there are so many ways you can enjoy this fiber-rich, warm weather veggie. Although corn can be prepared in a variety of different ways including steaming, boiling and microwaving, grilling will be our method of choice with summer’s sizzle just around the corner. But first thing’s first – here is the lowdown on what makes corn such an amazing and versatile staple crop:

Corn 101

Corn, one of the most popular cereals in the world, was first domesticated over 8,000 years ago in Mexico. It has been a staple ingredient in human diets for thousands of years. Interestingly enough, much of the corn produced today in the United States is not consumed directly by humans but instead used for production of corn products like starch, syrup or animal feed.

Corn season lasts from May through September – peaking in the summer. As a dietitian, I encourage my clients to eat along with the seasons. In-season produce is generally more affordable, nutritious and readily available in stores and markets. Corn is no exception, especially when June rolls around. One thing to note is that it is important to consume corn the day it is purchased or close to that, since corn begins to lose its natural sweetness as soon as it is picked.

Corn is a Grain and a Vegetable

One thing that makes corn so unique is that it is considered both a grain and vegetable. Dried and ground corn is considered a grain, while fresh corn is considered a vegetable. Corn naturally is also gluten free, making it a good grain option for those with gluten sensitivities or intolerances.

Debunking corn myths

Corn has gotten a bad rap lately with one reason being its sugar content. Yes, corn is sweet for a vegetable, but that doesn’t make it unhealthy. The glycemic index of just “corn” can vary, but cooked corn has an estimated glycemic index of 56, which is considered moderate. The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or quickly they cause increases in blood glucose levels.

Additionally, it is true that corn is one of the most genetically modified crops in the United States. While research on the safety of genetically modified corn for humans is limited and often conflicting, it is still an area of strong debate. If you are concerned about eating genetically modified crops, simply look for the non-GMO label.

How does corn stack up nutritionally?

Corn Nutrition

Carbohydrates: corn is primarily made up of carbohydrates, which is our body’s main source of energy. Sweet corn is a commonly consumed variety that is higher in sugar and lower in starch. The most common varieties of sweet corn are yellow, white and bi-colored.

Fiber: Corn, like all vegetables, is a good source of fiber. Corn primarily consists of insoluble fiber, which is important for digestion and elimination of free radicals.

Vitamin B5: B vitamins are important for breaking down food and converting it to energy. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is one of the most important B vitamins also needed for making hormones and keeping the immune system strong.

Antioxidants: Corn contains a slew of antioxidants, including carotenoids, which provide immune support and help prevent or mitigate cell damage brought on by free radicals.

1. Grilled Mexican Street Corn – Gluten Free

This popular Mexican street food is the perfect crowd-pleasing entrée for your summer soirees. The combination of sweet corn, savory cheese and spicy chili powder will keep your taste buds guessing. This twenty-minute side dish can easily become part of your weeknight appetizer rotation this summer.

Mexican Corn (Elote)

Recipe: Grilled Mexican Street Corn

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Brush corn with avocado oil and grill until slightly charred, turning often.
  3. Brush corn with mayonnaise and sprinkle with cotija cheese, chili powder and cilantro. Serve immediately.

2. Asian Style Corn on the Cob – Ⓥ Vegan

Put an Asian twist on this classic summer side with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and brown sugar. The combination of salty, sweet and umami will have you making this veggie side all summer long.

Asian Corn

Recipe: Asian Style Corn on the Cob

  • Serves: 5
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Brush corn with sesame oil and grill until slightly charred, turning often.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and brown sugar until uniform. Brush onto grilled corn and serve immediately.

3. Caribbean Style Corn on the Cob Ⓥ Vegan AND Gluten Free

This Caribbean style corn on the cob is brimming with aromatic spices, which are low in calories but high in flavor. This lower calorie recipe is perfect for those looking for a lighter take on classic corn on the cob that doesn’t lack in the flavor department.

Caribbean Style Corn

Recipe: Caribbean Style Corn on the Cob

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Brush corn with olive oil and grill until slightly charred, turning often.
  3. Add seasonings to a large mixing bowl and combine until uniform.
  4. Toss corn with seasonings until coated. Serve immediately.

4. Simple Garlic Parmesan Corn on the Cob – Gluten Free

Is there any better flavor combination than garlic and Parmesan? This match made in flavor heaven is the ideal simple accompaniment to our favorite grilled summer veggie. Plus, cheese adds additional protein for staying power along with calcium for strong and healthy bones.

Garlic Parmesan Corn

Recipe: Simple Garlic Parmesan Corn on the Cob

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Grill corn until slightly charred, turning often. Transfer to a serving plate.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together butter, parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley. Pour over corn and serve immediately.

5. Herbed Grilled Corn on the Cob – Gluten Free

Spices and herbs steal the show in this simple summer side. This option is perfect for your guests who enjoy dairy but are gluten-free or those simply looking for a lower calorie option.

Herbed Corn

 

Recipe: Herbed Grilled Corn on the Cob

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Grill corn until slightly charred, turning often. Transfer to a serving plate.
  3. Whisk together butter and herbs in a small bowl and pour over corn.

Be sure to try some of these delicious grilled corn on the cob preparations while the summer is ripe with this crop. These can be especially great for an easy weeknight side dish or even for entertaining guests! With its long history and consistent popularity, you can always count on corn on the cob to find its audience of happy people and satisfied palates.

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