April 3, 2012

Recipe: Grits and Greens

Here I've served grits and kale with veggie sausage.   Fabulous!
One of the most GERD-friendly meals I eat is grits, greens and beans or some other protein side  -- not so much a "recipe" as another "composition" of foods.   Quaker Old Fashioned grits provide some protein (4g) and nutrients (20% of your folic acid!) and being corn-based, are a lovely change from pasta, rice, and other grains.  (Polenta, another corn-based dish, is similar to grits, but different.)  For my GERD-prone gut, the mushy texture is welcome; as I noted in another post, my GERD tends to be calmer when I am eating soft foods like polenta, soups, and such.   Grits are especially easy for me to digest and I never have reflux issues after eating them.

However, once again, how your body processes and responds to grits may be different from mine.  I was surprised to find this Livestrong article about acidic foods and GERD listing "hominy grits" as a trigger food along with tomatoes, green beans, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and other acidic food suspects.  (I rarely have issues with tomatoes or any of these foods. Hmmm.)

Meanwhile, the Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa offers this "Bland Diet GERD" one-sheet guide,  sourced from the American Dietetic Association and Simplified Diet Manuel.   The "bland diet" includes grits as a recommended grain.

So, try grits and see how they work with your gut!


This "recipe" is very flexible -- you can vary the greens:  kale, chard, spinach, collards, you name it.   I usually just chop up the greens and saute them with olive oil and maybe some pressed fresh garlic.  For the beans, making them "from scratch" really makes this dish exciting, but canned beans will work, too; I especially like navy, yellow-eye, and black beans though kidney and pinto are tasty as well.

The challenge is making the grits so the result is creamy, not watery or gritty.  The trick is in the stirring -- you will need to put everything down while making this dish, and stir-stir-stir.  The more you stir, the more creamy the texture will be.

First:  Boil water in a pot that will allow for bubbling grits and plenty of room to stir.  The amount will depend on how much grits you need; check back of box for the ratio of grits to water.  I never add butter, though that is a possibility.  For GERD diets, I recommend avoiding unnecessary fats.

Step 1: When water comes to a boil, slowly pour in the dry grits.

Next: Get ready to stir!  Stir gently on and off until the grits return to a boil.   Lower heat and simmer loosely covered with a lid.   Stir often until grits thicken.  Some sticking to the bottom is okay, but if the texture is too sticky or thick, it's time to add some water to thin the mass.

Step 2:  Stir, simmer loosely covered, stir again and again til thickened.

Once thickened, keep stirring.  The whole stirring process may take 8-15 minutes or more and is critical to achieving a smooth texture.  You should taste the grits periodically to see how"gritty" they are once they are thickened.  If necessary, add water and stir.  I often need to add water two or three times during this process.

Grits with Earth Balance, broccoli, and kidney beans.

When done, the grits should taste smooth, no chewy or gritty pieces.  Serve with sauteed greens and beans.  You can top the grits with vegetarian (or dairy) butter; grits and cheese (dairy or non-dairy) is another good combination that I have not tried, but is popular in restaurants experimenting with grits. Another side that works well is vegetarian/vegan sausage, shown here -- serve with or without the beans for a satisfying meal.  I've frozen leftover grits with good results -- just put into freezer safe container, add a handful of veggies and beans and you have an instant homemade frozen meal for lunch!