At the beginning of fall I got bit by the chili bug and was eating the stuff non-stop for weeks. I was offering it up to friends, feeding it to my husband and packing it as a quick lunch for work almost daily. I didn’t realized I’d hit my max until a friend and I were discussing ideas for an upcoming dinner party and she said “anything but chili.” I agreed with her at the time but secretly I thought, “What are you talking about? I could chili year round!” And I do.
My all-time favorite chili companion is cornbread, which I made plenty of this fall drizzled in a little maple syrup for good measure. Absolutely smitten with the traditional kind, I had never tried the blue which is apparently healthier for you than the yellow stuff. Why? Let me explain.
According to Whole Foods, blue corn is uniquely high in anthocyanin antioxidants – one in particular that’s recently been linked to strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are so good for our bodies because they inhibit the oxidation of other molecules that can produce free radicals in a cell and cause damage or even kill a cell. This ultimately harms and weakens our body, but antioxidants literally terminate free radicals like little health-promoting super warriors. In short, seek out the blue corn variety when you can – the benefits are plentiful. Not to mention, just one cup of corn contains nearly 5 grams of fiber and 5-6 grams of protein!
This recipe is very simple to throw together and virtually impossible to mess up. You can also play with it and make it your own. I made this version vegan but you can easily sub a real egg for the flax egg and cow’s milk for almond if you prefer. As for what it tastes like, it’s slightly heartier than yellow cornbread but insanely moist and flavorful. It’s not too sweet either, so if you prefer a sweeter cornbread add more agave, maple syrup or honey.
Vegan Blue Cornbread
yields 1 loaf
- 1.5 cups blue corn meal
- 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose (or whole wheat) flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax seed meal + 2 Tbsp water)
- 1/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup (honey for non-vegan)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
Method | Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all dry ingredients (corn meal, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder) in a large bowl. Prepare flax “egg” by adding flax seed and water and letting it set for a few minutes. Then add agave nectar, applesauce, unsweetened almond milk and vanilla extract and whisk. Add wet ingredients to the dry bowl and mix until just combined. Transfer batter to a parchment-lined or lightly greased loaf pan (or a 12-cup muffin pan). Bake muffins 20-24 minutes. For a loaf, bake 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly before slicing and store leftovers in an airtight container for up to a few days.
Estimated Nutrition: Yields 10 slices; per slice: 92 calories, 2.2 g fat, 261 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrates, 1.9 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1.4 g protein
This recipe is probably my new favorite cornbread, and I wasn’t expecting it! It’s moist and hearty with a slight crunch from the gritty blue corn meal. I’ve enjoyed my slices just plain but they would be delicious lathered in a little Earth Balance and maple syrup for vegans, or and butter and honey for non-vegans. Served up alongside some chili or soup, this dish provides a sweet yet healthy note to hearty winter meals. Enjoy.
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photos and recipe by Dana Shultz